Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Third Season Recap

For episodes airing from 9/26/1994 to 6/19/1995
Series created by Rick Berman & Michael Piller
Executive producers: Rick Berman & Michael Piller

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

To see the rankings and 10-scale ratings for this season's episodes, click here.

The series took a sharp turn toward adventure this season, and the results were fairly successful. There were many stories featuring DS9's official new villains, the Dominion. Kicking off the season with the action packed episode "The Search, Part I," the series presented its new starship, the Defiant. The Defiant allowed the crew to escape the confines of the station for starship-based stories to satisfy the highly-demanded action quotient of the series.

However, the series was still at its best when dealing with intrigue and personal issues. Deep Space Nine has always been strongest when dealing with long-term story arcs which build from episode to episode. Fortunately, this was done with the Dominion storyline this year, which will surely become the defining story arc of the series in the oncoming season. Unfortunately, this also meant a shift away from some of the series' other important issues, such as Bajor's rebuilding and the problems the Federation has had with the Maquis. Hopefully, with the new elements in place, the fourth season will still find a place for the issues explored in its first two.

But for now, let's look at the highlights (and lowlights) of season three. Each episode of the season is listed below in "capsule summary & review" format.

Capsule Reviews

The Search, Part I: Hoping to negotiate peace with the Dominion before they launch an invasion of the Alpha Quadrant, Sisko takes a prototype Federation starship into the Gamma Quadrant to seek the Founders of the Dominion. This one features some of the most ambitious action and adventure ever on the series, and seems inflated for large audience-pleasing entertainment. Well, it works. Besides, the genuine character interaction is there, and it ends with a most unexpected event—Odo finding his race.

Rating: 3.5 stars

The Search, Part II: While Odo searches for his roots on a rogue planet in the Gamma Quadrant, Sisko must discover why Starfleet plans to sign a bogus treaty with the Dominion. The conclusion to the very ambitious and exciting season opener is, in a word, botched. It basically shoots itself in the foot with a totally absurd ending that renders the whole episode useless. Meanwhile, Odo's decision to refuse staying with his people is made too easy by the revelation that they are the Founders of the Dominion. The episode makes a good launchpad for future Odo stories, but standing alone it's a big disappointment.

Rating: 2 stars

House of Quark: Quark is forced into a marriage with a Klingon widow named Grilka whose husband he accidentally killed in a struggle. Quark must help her reclaim her family property from an honorless Klingon opportunist named D'Ghor. This is one of the better Quark vehicles—appropriately lightweight and amusing. However, this episode works best because Quark is given some noble actions that give him more dramatic depth than his usual cardboard selfishness. Mary Kay Adams turns in a credible Klingon performance as Grilka, whose scenes with Quark work well due to the offsetting personality factor.

Rating: 3 stars

Equilibrium: An imbalance between Dax's symbiont and host causes a rift in her personality and then places her life in danger. The medical technobabble and the clichéd life-in-jeopardy premise doesn't grab immediate attention. Also, the Trill cover-up plot is a bit excessive and unnecessary. However, the premise is downplayed in favor of some healthy character backstory, revealing a dark chapter from Dax's past—a psychotic, murdering musician erased from the symbiont's memory. It's fun seeing the usually good-natured Jadzia sport a hostile attitude in the early acts. The opening teaser goes down as one of the most amiable yet.

Rating: 3 stars

Second Skin: The Cardassians kidnap Kira and tell her she is really an undercover Cardassian operative whose appearance had been altered and memory erased. Is it Total Recall? An atypical drama that works very well because of Nana Visitor's performance and the presence of Lawrence Pressman as Cardassian Ghemor. Both are at the deception of Obsidian member Entek (Gregory Sierra), who makes a classic villain. The political intrigue factor gets a boost with the revelation of increasing discord between the Obsidian Order and the Central Command. Garak also makes a lively appearance.

Rating: 3.5 stars

The Abandoned: An orphaned Jem'Hadar finds its way onto the station, and Odo takes it upon himself to teach the hostile adolescent about things other than violence. Somewhat talky and derivative in the way of philosophical content, but the story is a very relevant vehicle for Odo in the wake of finding out his race is responsible for dictating the mayhem of the Gamma Quadrant.

Rating: 3 stars

Civil Defense: The crew inadvertently triggers a Cardassian anti-takeover program that somehow remained intact from the old Occupation days. It seizes control of the station and ends up arming the self-destruct sequence. It's watchable and sometimes entertaining, but the countdown to disaster is a weak and all-too-familiar premise. Marc Alaimo's performance as Dukat is atypically off-par here, with some rather distracting line delivery. A predictable, down-to-the-wire ending and an unexciting score aren't much help, either.

Rating: 2 stars

Meridian: Dax falls in love with Deral, a man who lives on a phase-shifting world. She must decide if she's willing to put life as she knows it on hold for 60 years to be with him during the next shift. A strictly by-the-numbers relationship episode, which follows some storytelling rule that dictates the two characters must meet, fall in love and separate in 45 minutes of air time. The scenes between Dax and Deral lack chemistry and motivation. A few grace-saving moments, including a farewell scene between life-long friends Sisko and Dax, as well as an amusing B-story in which Quark tries to create a sex hologram of Kira, but where did all this technobabble come from?

Rating: 2 stars

Defiant: Thomas Riker, a duplicate of William Riker created in a freak transporter mishap nine years earlier, masquerades as his doppelganger and steals the Defiant, then begins flying through Cardassian space with severe intentions. More political intrigue—one of DS9's best characteristics—makes this a suspenseful episode with origins in The Hunt for Red October. Sisko and Dukat pair up to hunt down the Defiant, making a believable example of two people working together with different agendas. Plot pacing and character interaction are handled very well by director Cliff Bole.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Fascination: A mysterious virus causes the DS9 characters to begin falling in love with each other on sight. Where in the world did this episode come from? This is easily the worst thing DS9 has done this season, if not all series. This episode is hopelessly ludicrous and hokey, and chooses to go so far over-the-top it's embarrassing. Even this concept could've been manipulated into some believable character moments, but most of the character interaction is horrifically inept. Not only did Avery Brooks get to direct the season's best episode, he got to direct the worst.

Rating: 1 star

Past Tense, Part I: Transported back to 21st century Earth, Sisko, Bashir and Dax find themselves days before an historical incident that will prove to be a turning point in Earth's social problems. Now if they can only find a way back without altering the time line... Another great moment in the third season, this one features some refreshing time travel and great character moments. But what sets it apart is a historical theme that proves quite poignant, and without getting too preachy. This may also be the breakthrough episode for Sisko's character, who displays the characteristics of a true leader and hero, and who continued to develop throughout the season.

Rating: 4 stars

Past Tense, Part II: Sisko must take the place of Gabriel Bell—a instrumental historical figure killed in part one due to Sisko and Bashir's unintentional intervention—and make sure the hostages remain unharmed by street thug B.C. Can't live up to part one, probably because it plays out the only way it possibly can—with time-travel devices and plot resolution. Still, a good episode on its own terms that manages to tie down all parts of the plot set up from the first half. Healthy interaction between Sisko and B.C. keeps the hostage-terrorist confrontations lively.

Rating: 3 stars

Life Support: A shuttlecraft accident fatally injures Vedek Bareil just days before crucial negotiations with the Cardassians. Doctor Bashir performs a miracle that restores Bareil's life, but with a number of medical drawbacks. A decent story with sincere intentions, in which noble Bareil puts his life on the line by forfeiting medical treatment in favor of going through with the negotiations. However, the story is undercut by some events that makes one wonder if the ends justify the means. Why, for one, did the writers write Bareil out of the show with hardly a bat of the eye? And just where did a truce between Bajor and Cardassia come from? These are two questions that will probably never be answered.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Heart of Stone: While searching for a Maquis criminal on a desolate planet, Kira becomes trapped in a crystal which begins to surround her. Odo must find a way to remove it before it kills her. This showcases where the Odo/Kira relationship stands, ending with the revelation that Odo is in love with her. Auberjonois and Visitor both come through with standout performances, but the plot takes a twist that basically makes this episode an exercise in redundancy.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Destiny: In the midst of the first combined mission between the Bajorans and the Cardassians under their new truce, Sisko is confronted by a Bajoran Vedek who brings news of a prophecy of disaster. According to the prophecy, the mission will cause the wormhole to collapse. This is an intelligent, clever story which analyses both Sisko and Kira's angst over the label of Emissary Sisko has been given. Provocative, on-target storytelling proves that cerebral originality is not a lost virtue.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Prophet Motive: Nagus Zek, who has apparently gone insane, visits Quark to show him the rewritten Rules of Acquisition, which go 180 degrees from typical Ferengi thinking. This is an anemic comic trifle that fails because we know exactly how Quark will react to almost every situation given to him. Fun-loving Zek is annoyingly goofy this time around, and the story is as transparent as piece of Plexiglas. The final act, however, has a good scene—which is filmed with consistency and style and harbors the episode's only genuinely funny dialog—in which Quark meets the wormhole inhabitants.

Rating: 2 stars

Visionary: Residual radiation in O'Brien's body causes him to periodically be pulled approximately five hours into the future where he becomes witness of curious events. O'Brien's best vehicle this year, this is one of the better executions of technobabble. It's a fascinating high-concept outing, something Trek tends to avoid (and for good reason since they can often be ludicrous). The destruction of the station is a potent visual, and Sisko's face-off with the Romulans made me want to cheer. O'Brien's time shifts which allow him to be in the right place at precisely the right time may be a tad on the convenient side but, hey, why not?

Rating: 3 stars

Distant Voices: A telepathic attack on Bashir leaves him dying in a coma, and the only way he can survive is to confront himself within his own mind by using the various facets of his personality, which take the form of his DS9 comrades. Another atypical concept from the mind of Joe Menosky is squandered due to a lack of storytelling substance. Interesting visuals, but the episode's symbolism angle is handled with all the subtlety of a "trespassers will be shot" sign—which borders on insulting the audience's intelligence.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Through the Looking Glass: Sisko is kidnapped to the mirror universe by the duplicate O'Brien, and forced into accepting a mission which involves turning a scientist from the Alliance to the Rebellion. The scientist is Sisko's wife, Jennifer—still alive on this side. This is a very entertaining and fast-paced "comic book" adventure, with some great action sequences and interesting mirror-versions of the DS9 cast. It's a tad transparent and doesn't milk the emotional pathos out of the situation, but it's very well performed and directed. Nana Visitor is phenomenal as the sultry and menacing Intendant Kira.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Improbable Cause: Odo investigates an attempt on Garak's life, which uncovers a web of political intrigue. One of the series' finest moments—about as close to a perfect episode that one could expect. Avery Brook's terrifically paced direction oversees a mastery of plot assembly and absolutely excellent dialog, courtesy of scripter Rene Echevarria. Plot revelations seem to be coming out of the woodwork, while pairing Garak and Odo together proves to be one of the most interesting—and entertaining—character combinations ever. An enjoyable gem—yet definitely not lightweight.

Rating: 4 stars

The Die Is Cast: Garak and Odo, captured by a renegade Romulan-Cardassian force, find themselves in the middle of an assault to destroy the Founders of the Dominion. A powerful episode that continues the setup of "Improbable Cause." It's a must-see just to see how the plot wraps up, and culminates with a huge battle against the Jem'Hadar. But it's the dynamics between Odo and Garak and their shared loneliness that really sets this story apart. When it comes down to it, these two are a lot alike.

Rating: 4 stars

Explorers: Sisko builds an ancient Bajoran sail-spaceship with intentions to prove that the Bajorans were able to travel to Cardassia 800 years ago. Sisko brings Jake along for the adventure, leading this to become a rather effective father/son episode which showcases just how well Brooks and Lofton work together. Light on plot and airing at an appropriate time, this character gem proves the cast knows how to conduct itself given the most basic of material. A B-story in which O'Brien and Bashir get hopelessly intoxicated is genuinely amusing.

Rating: 3 stars

Family Business: Quark is investigated by the Ferengi Commerce Agency, who tells him he is responsible for the actions of his mother Ishka—who has illegally earned profit. Quark and Rom return home to Ferengi to convince her to return the profits. Despite Shimerman's lively portrayals, Quark's self-serving antics are beginning to tire, and it's becoming difficult to sympathize with a character who insists on being rigidly transparent. Rom isn't much better. Though less selfish, he comes across here as the irreparable dullard he looks like. This episode also misses the point it seems to want to convey—that the sexist laws of Ferengi culture don't belong in the Roddenberry universe.

Rating: 2 stars

Shakaar: At the request of Kai Winn, recently appointed to the Provisional Government's temporary chair, Major Kira returns to her home providence to convince her old friends from the resistance to return some government equipment to put to community use. This is a recap of sorts to "Progress," in which Kira must take the side of the community over the struggling individual. Many relevant and sensible moments, but the conclusion is way too neat and the overall effects this episode has on the Bajoran political story arc are negligible.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Facets: Jadzia undergoes her Zhian'tara, the Trill Rite of Closure, in which the previous hosts of her symbiont borrow the bodies of her friends and offer insights into her own personality. "Facets" has a good premise, and it manages to be a fairly successful Dax show. It's not great, but it's good. The overall results are mixed due to a substantial plot hole and a lack of depth early on. However, the episode soars on the lively portrayal by Rene Auberjonois of Curzon joined with Odo.

Rating: 3 stars

The Adversary: On patrol of the Tzenkethe border, the Defiant is taken over by a Changeling spy who intends to start a war between the Tzenkethe and the Federation by launching an offensive on their territory. A good season finale that develops into a slick, efficient paranoid thriller with some genuine suspense and chills. The best-case scenario of "The Thing goes to Star Trek," this is the successful version of Voyager's awful "Cathexis." Terrific production includes a host of new Defiant sets and some well-utilized CGI morphing effects. Sisko's promotion to Captain and the ongoing back-burner development of his relationship with Kasidy Yates show that he has emerged this season as a very well-developed character.

Rating: 3 stars

Previous: Season 2
Next: Season 4

◄ Season Index

25 comments on this post

Thu, Oct 15, 2009, 10:59am (UTC -5)
No season recap? I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the season overall, because it left me a little flabbergasted. There were some FANTASTIC episodes that really pushed the enveloppe a lot more than season 2 had (which is saying something) but it also had some of the series worst episodes (I kind of like "Fascination" but "Meridian" and "Prophet Motive" are pure garbage) and there didn't seem to be an overarching theme. I was also disappointed with how long it took for anything to happen to the Dominion. Sisko's line at the end of the Jem'Hadar about an impending invasion ended up being an unfulfilled promise to the viewer. On the other hand, "The Die Is Cast" is the episode that really got me hooked on the series, but outside of that episode nothing much happened to further the Dominion arc along... I guess patience is a virtue!
Tue, Oct 9, 2012, 9:30am (UTC -5)
Project for some phantom editor: re-imagine Star Trek as a soap opera with overlapping storylines that span multiple episodes. For instance, instead of "Equilibrium," "Second Skin," and "The Abandoned" airing as self-contained shows on consecutive weeks, the three stories would intercut between each other. Or "Explorers," "Family Business," and "Shakaar." In some cases, it would make the timelines more plausible if events (especially love affairs) aren't compressed into a single hour.
Fri, Jan 11, 2013, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
I loved Season 3 -- it was the season that announced "This is a different Trek."

"Improbable Cause" and "The Die Is Cast" took it over the top. Those two remain EPIC episodes, and the die really was cast. The show was forever altered when two Alpha Quadrant powers decided to preemptively strike at the Founders.
Wed, Jan 23, 2013, 11:37pm (UTC -5)
Season 3 was a turning point for DS9 in another way: for the rest of its run, every season had more episodes that earned 4 stars from Jammer than episodes rated 2 stars or less. This season was the last with an inverse ratio of hits to misses. In fact, S3 got the most sub-2.5 ratings (6) of any year of DS9. Yet I still remember it fondly.
The Latinum Kid
Mon, Aug 5, 2013, 5:51pm (UTC -5)
Fascination is underrated. I enjoyed it and found it funny
Tue, Aug 5, 2014, 10:12am (UTC -5)
Here are my Season 3 rankings. Some epically great trek and some real stinkers. There doesn't seem to be many "middle of the road" eps in this season... I got the feeling they were great or not.

The Search, part one 4
The Search, part two 3.5
The House of Quark 3
Equilibrium 3
Second Skin 3.5
The Abandoned 2.5
Civil Defense 3
Meridian 1
Defiant 3
Fascination 1.5
Past Tense, part one 3
Past Tense, part two 2.5
Life Support 2.5
Heart of Stone 4
Destiny 3.5
Prophet Motive 2
Visionary 2
Distant Voices 1
Through the Looking Glass 1
Improbable Cause 4
The Die Is Cast 4
Explorers 3.5
Family Business 2.5
Shakaar 1.5
Facets 2.5
The Adversary 3

Total: 70.5
Average: 2.71

Wow, the same total as season 2. (yes, I checked the math :-) DS9 seems to be showing a pattern here. The the seasons start off with a bang then peters out. This is 2 seasons in a row that show this trend.
Sun, Aug 23, 2015, 3:18pm (UTC -5)
It's been awhile since I watched DS9, but I remembered season 3 being the 2nd worst (after the first season). This is partly because I don't enjoy the Past Tense episodes at all.

I still would rank season 2 ahead of season 3, but I enjoyed season 3 more this time through.

When it first aired, I disliked "The Search, Part II" more than Jammer, but I would probably give it 3 stars now. Some bad episodes, like "Fascination" and "Family Business", don't bother me as much as they originally did (not that they're good episodes, mind you). On the other hand, "Distant Voices", whose oddness I originally enjoyed, loses any impact on rewatch.

There's still a lot of good episodes here, just not a lot of great ones. The 2-parter Improbable Cause/The Die is Cast & perhaps the Search Part I are the only ones I'd place in that category.

A few thoughts on what could have made this season better (besides simply not going forward with a few bad ideas for episodes):

-T'Rul, the Romulan assigned to the Defiant in the first episode, would have been a fascinating addition, if they had kept her around.

-Eddington wasn't abandoned like T'Rul, but he mostly disappeared between the first and the last episode ("The Die Is Cast" being the obvious exception). Seeing these 2 characters interact with the established crew could have been the source for interesting stories.

-the Maquis were almost completely forgotten about this season. Bajor was still addressed in several episodes this season, although those episodes weren't particularly memorable. "Defiant" is really the only Maquis-driven episode, and that, ultimately, was more about the character of Thomas Riker & setting up the mystery of the Cardassian spying agency that the Maquis themselves. I wonder if they deliberately took a step back from the Maquis this year because Voyager was in it's first year. The Federation/Maquis conflict was originally supposed to be a big source of drama for Voyager, even if they pretty much abandoned that idea immediately.
Sun, Aug 23, 2015, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
"I still would rank season 2 ahead of season 3, but I enjoyed season 3 more this time through."

boy, that's confusingly worded!

I meant that I enjoyed season 3 more than I did previously. It's still behind season 2.
William B
Wed, Oct 7, 2015, 1:55pm (UTC -5)
Character and story analysis to follow, but for now, here are ratings to close out season three. This time I will include ratings for all episodes, and note in brackets the difference between my rating and Jammer's.

The Search, Part 1: 2.5 (-1)
The Search, Part 2: 2 (=)
The House of Quark: 3 (=) -- the 3.5 I suggested at the time was a bit much, I think
Equilibrium: 2.5 (-.5)
Second Skin: 3 (-.5)
The Abandoned: 2.5 (-.5)
Civil Defense: 2.5 (+.5)
Meridian: 1 (-1)
Defiant: 3 (-.5)
Fascination: 1 (=)
Past Tense, Part 1: 2.5 (-1.5)
Past Tense, Part 2: 2.5 (-.5)
Life Support: 1.5 (-1)
Heart of Stone: 3 (+.5)
Destiny: 3 (-.5)
Prophet Motive: 1.5 (-.5)
Visionary: 3 (=)
Distant Voices: 1 (-1.5)
Through the Looking Glass: 2 (-1.5)
Improbable Cause: 4 (=)
The Die is Cast: 3.5 (-.5) -- this I'm not sure about (I could go to 4)
Explorers: 2.5 (-.5)
Family Business: 1.5 (-.5)
Shakaar: 1.5 (-1.5) -- I suppose my 1* was a bit harsh
Facets: 2 (-1) (I said 2.5, but I think it's a bit weaker than that)
The Adversary: 2.5 (-.5)

So with a few exceptions, my ratings are significantly lower than Jammer's; it is worth noting that this is the first year of his reviews still up on the site (!).

The average comes out to between 2.3 and 2.4 -- I won't give more precision since I keep fiddling with the individual ratings.

So overall, it's not a bad year exactly, and I'd take it over something like TNG s1 or TOS s3. Still, there are fairly few episodes I think are actual successes, and the only outstanding eps were the IC/TDIC two-parter, the season's unquestioned highlight. There are quite a few episodes that were particularly weak as well.

I thought for a while about whether some of episodes I gave 2.5 stars to deserve promotion. Certainly, most of the 2.5 star shows have some real successes: arc-building and action-adventure (the premiere and finale), atmosphere and social commentary (Past Tense), action/comedy with a dose of satire (Civil Defense), character development in the wake of new character revelations (The Abandoned), effective suspense and mystery building (Equilibrium), and quiet character interaction (Explorers). But I felt that none of them rose above average, for reasons I articulated at the time; usually pleasant, but unsatisfying. It may be that I'm getting cranky at this stage, but I do think that this is a particularly weak season for the show.

On the other hand, I am looking forward to s4, which has plenty of gems and also I think finds a consistency that was sorely lacking in s3.
William B
Thu, Oct 8, 2015, 12:23am (UTC -5)
The Search followed up on The Jem'Hadar with a suggestion of a major series reshuffling, and then promptly went way overboard and then reversed course dramatically in part 2, and I think that strikes me as an apt summary of this season (and, well, much of the Dominion arc, but...). The season begins with the looming threat of the Dominion being treated as a significant game-changer; the opening two-parter, yes, and then The House of Quark implying that the station is being partially abandoned as a result of the new threat, and indeed is even the direct initiator of that episode's two main plotlines (the low business because of the Dominion is what makes Quark drum up business by pretending he had a heroic fight with the Klingon, and the low population is why Keiko closes the school). Then very quickly come Equilibrium, where Sisko takes the warship to Trill, and Meridian where we learn that planet-of-the-week exploration has been resumed in a commander's log. The rest of the season largely maintains this somewhat incoherent attitude, where the threat of the Dominion is so dire that the Ultimate Warship! is posted to the station, but the ranking officers on the station can spend days or weeks at a time doing proof-of-concept solar sailing ships or getting started in a ground war over farm equipment, or decide to take a sixty year leave of absence to go be with this guy they just met. Much of the issue here is that DS9 (like TNG, really) is a standalone/serialized hybrid, and it becomes one or the other depending on the interests of the week. I am sort of okay with this, except that it becomes harder to sell the EXISTENTIAL THREAT OF THE DOMINION when they are so out of sight most of the time. To be sure, people during tense times focus on things other than looming threats, but there is something about the transition from "The Die is Cast" to "Explorers" that goes beyond "time to relax" and into territory where it seems like Sisko doesn't even have a real job. (...Actually, maybe both episodes could have been improved if Admiral Whatley had relieved Sisko of duty for a few weeks or something for defying orders, and Sisko took up the solar sails hobby as a good project for the interim. Maybe not, on the other hand.)

Onto the characters:

Sisko: The most Sisko-centric episodes this year were arguably "Past Tense," "Destiny," "Through the Looking Glass," and "Explorers"; of these, "Destiny" worked for me despite some longstanding issues, but "Past Tense" and "Explorers" left me pretty on the fence and "Through the Looking Glass" actively bothered me in terms of Sisko's characterization. "Past Tense" and "Through the Looking Glass" both featured Sisko taking on another man's identity and living through his actions, but the motivation which was present in "Past Tense" was much shakier in "TTLG." What these episodes, and "Destiny" too (and in some respects even "Explorers," where Sisko's desire is to recreate an ancient Bajoran navigation and he ends up succeeding), suggest though is an overarching question of how much Sisko controls his own fate and how much he acts out a role which is already laid out for him. This is actually pretty interesting material, potentially, but I think only "Destiny" really starts to dig into what it might actually be like to be living out a role someone else set out for you and what psychological effects that has -- as well as seeing Sisko actually rebel against it. There is a potentially interesting story, and one that the season keeps gesturing to, but I don't really feel it's being explored. Sisko's continuing blackmailing people to work for him is another thing that I wish the show would deal with more explicitly (i.e. by having some negative consequences for Sisko eventually, at least in terms of the trust people have for him), and similar his defiance of orders in "The Die is Cast" or whatever. What did largely work for me this year is Sisko as friend, and Sisko as interpersonal manager; Sisko's efforts for Dax in "Equilibrium" and his advice to her in "Facets," his weighing his personal experiences with Nog against his potential in "Heart of Stone," and his ability to relate to Dukat and to make appropriate deals with him for the Defiant hijackers' lives in "Defiant" were all effective scenes, the Nog and Dukat stories in particular having Sisko make an effort to integrate new information about people he had already somewhat made his mind about (to different degrees) and thus allowing him to make several lives better. Sisko's scenes with Jake have been reasonable most of the time; the Kasidy relationship which Jake set up is just starting up, so time will tell. Rating: **1/2

Odo: Easily the best-handled of the regular cast, Odo is the only character for whom this season has a fairly consistent focus. Essentially, the whole season plays out as consequences to Odo's being forced to choose between his people and his Deep Space 9 life, with Kira as the primary reason why he chooses the latter, with layers of false explanations gradually unraveled. Lwaxana, the Female Shapeshifter, and Garak all break through Odo's defenses (through close observation, trickery or torture) to get at the real conflict, which Odo tries to hide but keeps coming out. And the season ends with Odo's choice of aligning against "his people" leading to him committing the gravest sin his people have, in the line of doing what more or less constitutes the bare minimum expected of him as a member of the DS9/Defiant crew. The downside is that Odo's feelings for Kira were hammered in too obviously at several points, and the "unrequited" bit is already wearing thin, but this is a relatively small problem. The key eps were "The Search" (pretty good on the Odo side), "The Abandoned" (not great, but with good Odo material), "Heart of Stone" and the "Improbable Cause"/"The Die is Cast" two-parter, the last of which also showcases his keen investigative instincts and is the season's highlight. Rating: ***1/2

Bashir: Bashir continues to gain definition, becoming less of the cipher he was in season one, and the performance and the episode to episode writing seems more confident. His relationship with Garak did not have a key defining episode like "The Wire" this year, but has been a pleasure nonetheless, and effort building on his friendship with O'Brien has worked well. The main problem is that there are no particularly strong Bashir vehicles; the one dedicated Bashir episode, "Distant Voices," was very weak, and other episodes which gave him a big part of the A-plot, like "Past Tense" or "Life Support," generally used him as the humanist mouthpiece in reasonable but not particularly individualized ways. Rating: **1/2

Jadzia: Of the three Dax episodes this season, "Equilibrium" sidelined Jadzia fairly early on to focus on Sisko and Bashir's investigations, "Facets" had Jadzia as something of a blank slate reacting to her previous hosts (especially Joran and Curzon), and "Meridian" ran counter to her general character portrayal and is in the running for the least convincing romance in Trek history, with some pretty stiff competition. Otherwise, Jadzia's role in episode plotlines often came down to "Dax gets her hands burned" (Civil Defense)-level activities. Really not a good year for her. However, some credit for giving us an opportunity to (sort of) meet Curzon at long last in "Facets," and for the intriguing concept (if not necessarily follow-up) of the killer-in-one's-attic idea of Joran. Maybe I should offer separate ratings for Jadzia and Dax, with Dax higher. Rating: *1/2

Jake: Jake was in this season. "Explorers" was the only episode which gave Jake a significant role in the A-plot, and it had its moments, though its explanation for why Jake stays on the station left something to be desired; generally, Jake has just had very little to do. The "Jake dates Marta, then she breaks up with him, then he is affected by a love spell" plotline was not exactly one of the show's stronger arcs. Rating: ** maybe, but really it might as well be N/A.

O'Brien: The only real O'Brien story this year was "Visionary," which was a good episode that is an engaging use of the character. His continuing friendship with Bashir was good, and the handling of Keiko's departure in "The House of Quark" was very sweet (though "Fascination's" follow-up less so). Not all that much material but what there was was pretty good. Rating: ***

Quark: I enjoyed "The House of Quark," and there are some other good moments for him this season -- his role in "The Search" was pretty effective, for instance. But "Prophet Motive" was nearly content-free, and "Family Business" in spite of some good elements was mostly actively harmful to the character. It is a shame, because Shimerman is one of the strongest in the cast, which largely keeps the character worthwhile despite having less and less good material. Rating: **1/2

Kira: Kira has much more focus and stronger material than most of the cast, but the shape of the Kira material this year (especially with "Shakaar") is pretty messy. The key Kira episodes this year are "Second Skin," "Defiant," "Destiny," and "Shakaar," and of those four I like *three*, which is a pretty good ratio. Still, "Second Skin" does not do as much as it could have, "Defiant" throws some weird curveballs into Kira/Bareil right when his death is gearing up, and "Destiny" somewhat retcons Kira's attitude to Sisko. Meanwhile, "Life Support," an episode which should really have had Kira at the centre for its major events (Bareil's death, the Bajoran/Cardassian peace treaty) sidelines her for most of its running time. The season then tries to make up for it by bringing her issues with the Cardassian treaty into "Destiny" and with Bareil's death into "Shakaar," but they both feel incomplete, and "Shakaar" in particular at times seems to give the werid impression at times like Kira was willing to start a civil war because Winn pissed her off, and that even her grief for Bareil was only about that, as well as running contrary to what "Defiant" *seemed* to be saying about her. The Odo crushing on Kira plot reduces Kira largely to object. Rating: **1/2 (it would probably be 3 if the handling of her reaction to Bareil's death were better).

Supporting cast:

Garak: The key here is the "Improbable Cause"/"The Die is Cast" two-parter, which is the obvious season highlight. This pays off much of what "The Wire" said about Garak in a different setting, giving Garak the opportunity to return to his people in a way that not only furthers his character but also shines a light on Odo's journey. "Civil Defense," "Second Skin" and the actual-Garak scenes in "Distant Voices" are fun but somewhat running in place for the character. I do think mirror-Garak is a tiny bit of a waste of Robinson's talent and presence, since it's a bit of a standard thug. Also having Garak do a brave sacrificial death in "The Search Part II" as part of the illusion was pretty weird. Still: ***1/2.

Dukat: His scenes with Sisko and the Obsidian Order operative in "Defiant" were great, and I love most of his scenes in "Civil Defense," especially those videos. "BAJORAN WORKERS!" "Explorers" was fluff and it was odd to have Dukat dropped into that story, given the startling defeat Cardassia just had and the probable implications those would have for Dukat. Rating: ***

Rom: The movement to full idiot savant mode is pretty much complete, but Rom has still largely not been placed at the centre of stories (the way he will be in "Bar Association" next year, say) so we will have to wait and see on that. He is getting pretty annoying, but I do think he managed to be the least annoying of the three Ferengi leads in "Family Business," at least. I do actually find his support for Nog quite touching. Definitely, he has changed somewhat radically since the halcyon days of season one, where he objected to Nog's schooling to keep up his image as a good Ferengi (in "The Nagus"), and I do not really think those changes seem wholly organic; Rom, up to "Rules of Acquisition," was put-upon by Quark and took this out on other people (his son, Pel), and I don't think that there was any major event which convincingly realigned him to have the strength of character not to pay forward his misery. I do think it's something of a reworking of the character, whereas I would have preferred a development. Rating: **1/2

Nog: As I said in the eps themselves, I do think that having the "Nog is sexist" ep right before "Nog wants to be in Starfleet" was odd placement, but overall the Starfleet development makes sense of some of what we have seen in s1-2 and is a nice direction for the character. Rating: ***

Bareil: My girlfriend keeps quoting that line Bashir had in "Life Support": "Nerys, if I remove the rest of his brain and replace it with a machine, he may look like Bareil, he may even *talk* like Bareil...." He would indeed have talked like Bareil. I think I should moderate my criticism of the character by saying that having a voice for Bajoran peace and serenity as a way of coping with hard times was a good idea, and I think that the concept of Kira finding an honourable ascetic as someone to are about and to share her passion for Bajor with was a good one. There are old Ronald D. Moore chats that one can find in archives, where people would continuously write in and talk about how awesome Bareil was and how upset they were that he was killed off, and while I cannot say I agree with them I can at least agree that it was good to have another positive voice out of Bajor. There is a certain quiet dignity in Bareil's martyr-y death, which I did not really talk about much in my negative take on "Life Support." And I will try not to hold "Fascination" against him. Rating: **

Winn: I feel like she has been somewhat retooled from calculating fundamentalist to incompetent politico; the intelligence with which Winn carried herself (and deployed her attacks) was much missed, by me anyway, in her two episodes this year. In a way, it may be that this was the point; Winn is undermined and we see that actually she was not an evil genius but a mostly-bad fool, who knows how to play the Vedek Assembly but is totally out to sea in other departments, and that probably makes sense. "Life Support's" attempt to put her in a somewhat neutral role rather than a villainous one (she is the heavy to some extent, but her desire for a peace treaty seemed genuine) was a good move, though "Shakaar" bought that back. Fletcher does what she can with the material, though. My favourite Winn moment (a love-to-hate moment) was the way she smugly told Kira that Bareil didn't want credit for his actions, and that she thought that Kira would know that.

Various: Zek's and Lwaxana's reappearances this year were not so thrilling; Tain's, though, was quite welcome. This season introduced several new recurring players, including Eddington, the Female Shapeshifter, Leeta, Ishka, Kasidy and Shakaar. I think Salome Jens is very good in the FS role, though she hasn't had that much to do yet. As for the others, well, they also haven't had much to do yet.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Dec 5, 2015, 11:24am (UTC -5)
A bit of a curate's egg this season. I scored it overall on an average of 2.56, just barely ahead of season one and behind four series of TNG. As I rated Season 2 the best of any Trek so far this is a big come down.

And it's not that the series is particularly bad - just that it's so resolutely average, with no real standouts (no 4 star episodes) and very few real stinkers (just 2 at 1/1.5 stars). Perhaps it's just that now we know the Dominion is out there it needed to be moved on a bit quicker?
Thu, Mar 24, 2016, 8:10pm (UTC -5)
Post-season number crunching time! :-D

7 - The Search, Part I
6 - The Search, Part II
10 - The House of Quark
6 - Equilibrium
9 - Second Skin
7 - The Abandoned
7 - Civil Defense
0 - Meridian
8 - Defiant
5 - Fascination
7 - Past Tense, Part I
5 - Past Tense, Part II
7 - Life Support
10 - Heart of Stone
9 - Destiny
3 - Prophet Motive
5 - Visionary
4 - Distant Voices
4 - Through the Looking Glass
10 - Improbable Cause
9 - The Die is Cast
7 - Explorers
1 - Family Business
6 - Shakaar
4 - Facets
8 - The Adversary

17 episodes were above-average, 3 were average and 6 were below-average.

Average Season Score: 6.308
Average Series Score: 5.859
TNG Series Score After Three Seasons: 4.315
TOS Final Score: 5.150

Best Episode: Heart of Stone
Worst Episode: Meridian

WTF HAIR - 26 (+10)

A whole season without any "Holodeck Toys"? Impressive! In fact, "Shadowplay" was the last time one appeared. That's a run of thirty-six episodes! Very impressive. Of course, I know this run is going to come to an end with "The Way of Warrior". Still, given how often Trek loves to pull this little "joke," I'm kind of stunned.

Season Three continued "Deep Space Nine's" march upward in the ratings, finishing with a score of 6.308 - better than Season Two's score of 6.000. That's a new record for the best season of Trek yet. TNG is still being absolutely dominated in terms of the shows' running average score and TOS has probably already been irrevocably topped as it's run now comes to an end. The season gave us three 10/10 worthy episodes - something Trek hasn't been able to accomplish since Season Two of TOS. And it gave us six classic episodes (scores of 9 or 10), yet another record-breaker. While it ties the record for lowest concentration of below-average episodes (with TNG Season Five) and only gave us one 0/10 episode, it did come awfully close to a second one with "Family Business". The season had a very strong opening, until that run was destroyed by "Meridian". After that, however, the scores appear to have held relatively steady, with some noticeable dips both up and down. Overall, it was a fairly consistent season, avoiding Season Two's major problem of the Mid-Season Slump.

The character problems have also mostly been sorted out. At the end of Season Two I thought that Sisko was still in need of some character work and the writers delivered on that account. He's definitely become a more emotional and action-oriented guy, which plays into Avery Brooks' acting style much better than the rather detached, unemotional Sisko of the early seasons. The Sisko has definitely arrived. :-P All the other characters are also settled into their grooves and are performing well, with the occasional hiccup here and there (a la just about any Kira/Quark interaction or any time the writers decide to beat up on Quark for no good reason). Dax, however, is still struggling (character-wise). Boy-oh-boy has that problem caused some discussion over on the "Facets" comments, so I won't go into detail here again. Suffice it say that she's entrenching herself as my least favorite of the main (and possibly recurring) cast.

So, can Season Four, with it's drastic new direction for the show, top 6.308? Onward we go!
Sun, Jan 1, 2017, 4:11pm (UTC -5)
My scoring for Season 3 would go:
1. "The Search Part 1"-3.5
2. "The Search, Part 2"-3
3. "The House of Quark"-3.5
4. "Equilibrium"-3
5. "Second Skin"-3.5
6. "The Abandoned"-3
7. "Civil Defense"-3.5
8. "Meridian"-2
9. "Defiant"-3.5
10. "Fascination"-1
11. "Past Tense Part 1"-4
12. "Past Tense Part 2"-3.5
13. "Life Support"-2
14. "Heart of Stone"-2.5
15. "Destiny"-3
16. "Prophet Motive"-2
17. "Visionary"-3.5
18. "Distant Voices"-2
19. "Through the Looking Glass"-3.5
20. "Improbable Cause"-4
21. "The Die is Cast"-4
22. "Explorers"-3.5
23. "Family Business"-2
24. "Shakaar"-2
25. "Facets"-2.5
26. "The Adversary"-3.5

Average: 3

I really like all the seasons from here on out, probably due to Ira Steven Behr taking over as showrunner. I loved the character work done this season.
Sat, Oct 27, 2018, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
Beginning with the ratings summary:

No. Title (x/10) [Jammer +/-]

**** Exceptional (must watch)
1. Improbable Cause (9.5) [=]

***.5 Excellent (truly enjoyable)
2. The House of Quark (8.5) [+.5]

*** Good (solid instalment)
3. Visionary (8) [=]
4. The Die Is Cast (8) [-1]
5. Second Skin (7.5) [-.5]
6. Defiant (7) [-.5]
7. Past Tense I (7) [-1]
8. The Abandoned (7) [=]

**.5 Okay (problems, worthwhile)
9. The Search II (6.5) [+.5]
10. The Search I (6.5) [-1]
11.(tie) Explorers (6) [-.5]
11.(tie) Life Support (6) [=]
13. Civil Defence (6) [+.5]
14. Facets (6) [-.5]

** Watchable (not good, not awful)
15. Heart of Stone (5.5) [-.5]
16. Past Tense II (5.5) [-1]
17. The Adversary (5.5) [-1]
18. Shakaar (5) [-.5]
19. Distant Voices (5) [-.5]
20. Equilibrium (4.5) [-1]

*.5 Poor (annoying)
21. Family Business (4) [-.5]
22. Prophet Motive (4) [-.5]

* Terrible (do not watch)
23. Destiny (3) [-2.5]
24. Through the Looking Glass (2.5) [-2.5]
25. Meridian (2) [-1]

.5 stars, Horrendous (watch ironically)
26. Fascination (1.5) [-.5]

Average : 2.254 stars (5.5/10) [-15.5]

Authors across all series and films thus far reviewed (# of stores), Average out of 10

Fields (7) 8.5
Coyle (2) 8
Echevarria (2.5) 7
Moore (5.5) 7
Wolfe (8) 6
Trombetta (5) 6
Bader (3.5) 6
J. Taylor (1.5) 6
Braga (5.5) 5.5
Biller (3.5) 5.5
Somers (2) 5
Shankar (1) 5
Gendel (2) 5
Crocker (2.5) 5
Behr (8.5) 5
Piller (6.5) 5
Menosky (2.5) 4

Season Shape (10pt scale):

1 ******.5
2 ******.5
3 ********.5
4 ****.5
5 *******.5
6 *******
7 ******
8 **
9 *******
10 *.5
11 *******
12 *****.5
13 ******
14 ******
15 ***
16 ****
17 ********
18 *****
19 **.5
20 *********.5
21 ********
22 *****
23 ****
24 *****
25 ******
26 *****.5

Looking at the numbers alone, this is actually the worst season of DS9 yet, scoring just a few points under Season 1. This is a bit misleading, as I think this season is overall superior. It's just that there are six really awful stories scattered about the season. And it so happens that four of those six were co-penned by the new show runner, Ira Steven Behr (“Fascination,” “Prophet Motive,” “Through the Looking Glass,” and “Family Business”). This strikes me as worrisome because Behr is going to be the show runner throughout the rest of the series. Then again, Michael Piller wrote both BoBW and “Insurrection,” so who knows. There are also fewer great episodes this season. Season 1 had three, Season 2 had four, but this one only has two (“Improbable Cause” and “The House of Quark”).

Trends :

At the end of Season 2, I wrote: “'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.”

So how did we do?

--Obviously, the major arc this season was about the looming threat of the Dominion. “The Search” ineffectively retconned Starfleet into a more militarised organisation, which justified the creation of the Defiant. Bashir's hypothetical in “Past Tense” (“If push comes to shove, if something disastrous happens to the Federation, if we are frightened enough, or desperate enough, how would we react? Would we stay true to our ideals or would we just stay up here, right back where we started? “) is clearly where the writers want to take us, but I maintain the position that such a question is not very interesting or very Trekkian. Creating a situation so extreme that people don't live up to their ideals only proves that extreme situations are bad for society. One should avoid them. However, the actually plot points between “The Search,” “Defiant,” “The Die is Cast” and “The Adversary” link up very well in theme and direction. The execution on all of these was okay to very good, which I think is why, numbers aside, this season feels stronger than the previous two. The weak episodes lie largely outside this central arc.

The Dominion:

We learn that the Founders infiltrate powers they wish to conquer, either through simulated input or using Changelings themselves to put spies amongst their targets. Their efforts effectively eliminated the Obsidian Order and the Tal Shiar and nearly plunged the Federation into yet another border war. We also learn that the Founders genetically-engineer their subjects to make them servile and dangerous to their enemies. The Dominion is an intriguing enough enemy for me to overlook the contrivance of them STILL NOT CLOSING THE WORMHOLE. At least for now.


We actually got a lot of movement on Bajor this season, but I'm not optimistic about it. While it's kind of amazing that they would sign a peace treaty with the power that only stopped raping their planet 3 years ago, the appointment of Bitchwhore from Pope (which was already disappointing) to First Minister is very troubling. And not only because she herself is dangerous (cartoonishly so in “Shakaar”), but because the Bajorans don't seem to have any interest in keeping church and state separate. The one truly “faith-based” episode this season, “Destiny,” only makes the Bajorans look more pitiably stupid. On the other hand, the oblique actions of the Prophets in that episode and their direct inference in “Prophet Motive,” suggests to me that we should be viewing them as villains.We'll have to see if Shakaar is able to bring some balance to this culture.


Things remain surprisingly unclear about what's going on over there. Our major Cardassian stories, “Second Skin” and “Defiant,” focus upon the conflict between the CCC and the OO. So, when the OO is destroyed, one would expect to see some political fallout on Cardassia. We don't get to see their reaction to the new peace treaty either. All we get is Dukat setting off some space-fireworks. And what happened to the dissident movement?

Characters (in order from best to worst):

Odo [+]

Odo began this season in conflict with Starfleet and the new character Eddington, but that arc just kind of fizzled out when the Founders were revealed to be Changelings. In learning what the Link is (and how temping it is), Odo's isolation takes on further complexity. He is no longer alone by circumstance, but by choice. We confirm that his desire for justice is really just a genetic bent towards order. Changeling instincts are actually quite a liability (as I wish had been better addressed), lest we forget how Odo abandoned the Defiant and crew to find the Omarian Nebula. We see him try and make the most of his life as a Changeling amongst solids in “The Abandoned” and “Facets.” Between his confession to Resusci Anne about being in love with Kira and admitting to Garak that he greatly wishes to return to the Link, it seems the constable has no more secrets. This really is Odo's season.

Garak [=]

Garak's skills are put to good use in “Second Skin,” and again in “Improbable Cause,” repeating the success of “The Wire” in this respect, as well as paying off on those frequent literary discussions with Bashir. Playing him off Odo was a stroke of genius that revealed a great deal of the mysterious tailor's backstory. Otherwise, he was an effective secondary character.

O'Brien [=]

I sort of understand why the writers wrote Keiko out of the show save for the occasional visit (although I tend to like Keiko), but “Fascination” casted serious doubt on the viability of their marriage moving forward. On the other hand, I'm very happy to see the friendship with Bashir finally settle into something amiable. But there really isn't anything meaty for him to deal with on a character level. “Visionary” was a very good outing, but hardly challenging compared to “Whispers” or “Tribunal.”

Dukat [-]

Aside from that weird and pointless threat in “Civil Defence,” the only Dukat story this season is “Defiant,” which works alright for him. Alaimo certainly shines in the role, but, like Cardassia in general, he is characterised in relation to the OO. So, when Tain's fleet is destroyed, Dukat is kind of forgotten about. I find his role in “Explorers” really absurd.

Bashir [+]

Bashir didn't get anything meaty this year either. “Distant Voices” was the closest, but failed to offer any profound insights into his character. However, he is involved in a lot of the minor subplots which slowly correct many of the problems with the character, giving him shades of nuance, toning the skirt-chasing WAY down, giving him regrets and complexity. While I would have like something more substantive, I will happily take better characterisation.

Kira [=]

Despite having a lot to do, overall Kira's growth this season is pretty minimal. She did, finally, come to appreciate Federation bureaucracy in “Defiant,” but also shows a real shallowness in her beliefs between her asinine credulity in “Destiny” and scattered loyalties in “Shakaar.” I think we are meant to gather between “Defiant” and “Shakaar” that Kira has settled in her role, but the hysterical freedom-fighter we saw in “Emissary” is still in there. That's fine, but so many Kira scenes this season fail to grow her; “Heart of Stone” Kira wasn't really Kira, “Defiant” Kira takes a back seat to Riker's development, “Life Support” Kira can't think of anything meaningful to say to her dying boyfriend, and “Shakaar” Kira seems to want to insist that she actually hasn't grown at all.

Winn/Bitchwhore [-]

While the opening acts of “Shakaar” showed some promise, Bitchwhore is sadly two-dimensional this season and the lines she's given don't play to Louis Fletcher's strengths. She is still an effective antagonist, but the character has so much more potential that isn't being tapped into.

Dax [-]

All three big Dax episodes this year failed to develop her character. The introduction of the Jay Chattaway/Joran host hasn't added anything to the mix really. The writers just don't seem interested in figuring out who *Jadzia* is, fixating instead on her Trill nature. This is in some ways more egregious than the problems with Troi, who at least had character traits unrelated to her work or her Betazoid powers. The Trill themselves were ruined by “Facets,” with the nature of symbiosis reduced to very neat and simple mechanics.

Sisko [=]

Jammer is correct that the writers spent a lot of time on Sisko this season, I'm just not sure it helped him all that much. To begin with, “The Search” established that Sisko's first reaction to the loss of Jennifer was to design Borg-killing machines. And when he visits Mirror-Jennifer in TtLG, Sisko is portrayed like a gung-ho idiot. These characterisations make the tragedy of his backstory seem kind of cheap. The last bloc of episodes introduced us to Kasidy Yates, a relationship that I'm looking forward to seeing play out for several reasons, and the stuff with Jake is a bit better. Brooks also seems more human in his portrayal ever since he grew the goatee. I *really* enjoyed him in “Shakaar.” However, these minor improvements are overshadowed by some truly awful developments; the callous and immoral actions in “Through the Looking Glass,” the numerous violations of orders, outright lies he tells people, continued manipulative personality, and self-centred immersion into Bajoran mysticism are terribly disappointing to see in the series' lead. The structure of the season is also very odd—Starfleet gives him a ship in “The Search,” and his decisions see it nearly destroyed and TWICE hijacked by an enemy. Then they promote him in “The Adversary” and his choices see a crewman murdered and the Federation nearly plunged into a war. How exactly is Sisko a hero?

Quark [-]

“The House of Quark” started the character off strong, showing us that Quark had depth and nuance. It was a little out of left field, but it was most welcome. Unfortunately, the rest of the season looked a lot more like season 2 Quark whose relationship with women not called Grilka is really cringeworthy. Generally though, the writers seem to want to remove his depth entirely, making him a cardboard Ferengi Values machine who never learns, watching his society evolve around him, and stubbornly digging his heals in to his conservative perspective for...for what? His mediocre bar? The Nagus who abuses him? The family which is abandoning him? All of the “let's make fun of Quark by cross-dressing him is aggravating, too (c.f. “Meridian” “Facets”), and we all know where that's leading. I'll mention here too that Rom gets one good moment this season, standing up for Nog in “Facets.” Otherwise he's pretty awful.

Jake [+]

Cirroc Lofton is still not impressing with his performance, and I remain offended by the Mardah thing, but overall, they've at least managed to give Jake something to do. He is coming into his own, defining his abilities and his values to a degree. I don't know if I buy Jake the ladies' man matchmaker with the soul of a poet thing, but hey, it's more characterisation than Jadzia got most of this season. The friendship with Nog is mostly unpleasant. The writers need to figure out what makes these two remain friends into adulthood.


The series has committed itself to undermining many aspects of the Star Trek ethos. I don't need to rehash all of that here as the sins don't really come together into anything cohesive outside of the deleterious effect on Sisko. That will change as the series goes on, but we will cross that bridge. I also wish that the implied economic damage the looming danger posed DS9 wasn't abandoned after the first bloc.

Overall, I like the way the series recognised how, with “The Jem'Hadar” proving that the AQ needs to come together to face the threat, the Dominion needed to sew discord amongst the various powers. Cardassia and Romulus are now handicapped, so we know the Federation and Klingon Empire are next.
Sun, Oct 28, 2018, 6:40am (UTC -5)
Holy crap Elliot :-)

I think you've eclipsed William B for the longest post.
William B
Sun, Oct 28, 2018, 2:22pm (UTC -5)
"I think you've eclipsed William B for the longest post."

Gulp! Time to quote Elliott's post and add a few sentences to get myself back up... ;)

Re: Elliott's take: I think I disagree that s3 plays better than s1-2, but I'm sort of not sure. I think that season 2's ending really is very promising. I was just thinking about the end of the season, from Blood Oath on, and thinking about what it promised, and whether season 3 delivered.

Blood Oath: more exploration of Jadzia's coping with past hosts and the moral differences between her and them; an examination of how TOS (and Klingons) looks from a more modern perspective. Result: no real progress, some backwards movement. (Though Jadzia is becoming more settled in terms of characterization.) However we know that season 4 is going to revisit the Klingons (including with Kor) so we'll see.... The House of Quark does Klingon stuff well though.
The Maquis: I know Elliott is down on them, and I'm mixed on them. I think as discussed, the episode seemed to suggest a big seismic shift in terms of the Maquis, especially on Voyager, but depending on who you ask, either the promise was basically bogus to begin with and needed to be dropped (Elliott) or there was some promise really not followed up on (e.g. Jammer, Peter, etc.). However Defiant does manage to integrate the Maquis story into the larger plot tapestry.
The Wire: Garak/OO character and plot promises FULFILLED with IC/TDIC; Bashir character development promises sort of stalled.
Crossover: MU as vehicle for legitimate character/thematic commentary, including on TOS, is basically dashed by TTLG.
The Collaborator: One of the episodes to suggest that Bareil might be a decent character to explore, and that the theological and political divisions will rest on Occupation fault lines. The episode does get followed up but largely in disappointing ways (Life Support, Shakaar) that don't really give a big sense of Bajor overall.
Tribunal: Some sense of Cardassia as a people, the crumbling empire and the propaganda required to sustain it: somewhat followed up on / fulfilled.
The Jem'Hadar: Ferengi/hewmon stuff mostly tanked after The House of Quark (which does Ferengi/Klingon stuff). The Dominion story shows promise.

The other big "promises" of season 2 are sort of in episodes like Necessary Evil/The Alternate, suggesting some big material for Odo, which was fulfilled. Unfortunately, Rules of Acquisition (which I probably overrated by liking it more than most) sort of just leads to gradually worse and worse episodes in terms of either Zek or Ferengi suffrage.

So I think that season 3's record in terms of paying off various season 2 threads is mixed. I largely feel like season 2 leaves me feeling happier about the direction of the show than season 3 does, though.
Sun, Oct 28, 2018, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
@William B

Oops! I realised I wasn’t clear. Maybe brevity really is the soul of wit. I only meant that I think S3 played better than S1, even though it had a slightly lower overall score from me. I think S2 is far and away superior.
William B
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott, gotcha.

Re: closing the wormhole -- I think this is a case where it is best just to look at it as a contrivance, because there's no effort within the series to suggest any reasons why not actually close it, particularly after it was put on the table in The Search, which is what you're doing. However, it's worth noting that it didn't *have* to be a contrivance, in that it could have been a source of drama.

All the writers would have to do is to decree (via technobabble, if need be) that closing the wormhole would mean sealing Bajor from their gods, possibly forever, and it creates an immediate dramatic engine that will bring the Bajor/Federation story back into play, and means that there is a huge impact on whether or not Bajor descends into full theocratic rule under Winn.

In particular, for Bajorans Of Faith, it would create a huge conflict between the exegencies of survival in the material world -- i.e., are the Dominion going to come and kill them all -- and the possibility that they may have a chance to commune with their gods, which are also what helped them survive the Occupation. They may even have a choice between facing another Occupation, this one possibly even worse, but with the wormhole (and thus their gods) still accessible, or save themselves from that fate by cutting themselves off from the gods forever. Winn might come to realize that her political gain is deeply fragile and may need to stir this up as an issue in order to maintain hold of it, and may also believe she's right.

This would also rather obviously put a target on Bajor's back. Federation ethics would seem to suggest that they would let Bajor make the determination of what to do about the wormhole -- and yet, once Bajor becomes part of the Federation, would that change? If Bajor ceases to be on track for Federation membership, what responsibility does the Federation have to continue to protect it, since the Klingons, Romulans and Cardassians are bound to want to close the wormhole, if other contingencies fail?

And this could also bring up more about what exactly the Wormhole Aliens *want*, too. Do they get a say over what happens to their wormhole? Should they? This eventually leads to (spoiler) Sacrifice of Angels, and Peter has argued before that this is part of what's cool about that -- that it shows that the various AQ political powers have been neglecting that there are sapient beings in their, who have their own agenda. And that is interesting, but I also could see it being worthwhile to have confronted this question earlier.

It's pretty juicy stuff, and I am a bit surprised the writers didn't go that direction -- although a lot of this is more obvious with hindsight, and it might cause a lot of complications to go deep into that. Maybe given the actual handling of Bajor stories in season 3, the writers would have fumbled this angle anyway. But it makes me wonder.
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
"Looking at the numbers alone, this is actually the worst season of DS9 yet, scoring just a few points under Season 1. This is a bit misleading, as I think this season is overall superior. It's just that there are six really awful stories scattered about the season. And it so happens that four of those six were co-penned by the new show runner, Ira Steven Behr (“Fascination,” “Prophet Motive,” “Through the Looking Glass,” and “Family Business”). This strikes me as worrisome because Behr is going to be the show runner throughout the rest of the series. Then again, Michael Piller wrote both BoBW and “Insurrection,” so who knows. There are also fewer great episodes this season. Season 1 had three, Season 2 had four, but this one only has two (“Improbable Cause” and “The House of Quark”). "

I enjoyed this season more than you-for me it's a bit better than Season 2, which had a strong start and end but a dire midsection. Season 3, while having many episodes that don't work ("Equilibrium", "Meridian", "Fascination", "Life Support", "Prophet Motive", "Distant Voices", "Family Business", "Shakaar"), it also has a lot of episodes that I really enjoy/love ("The Search", "The House of Quark", "Second Skin", "The Abandoned", "Civil Defense", "Defiant", "Past Tense", "Heart of Stone", "Visionary", "Improbable Cause"/"The Die is Cast", "Explorers", "The Adversary"). The problem isn't what the season does-the work they do with establishing the Dominion and how it's affecting the great powers in the AQ is great-but what it doesn't. There simply isn't enough consistency in this season. "The Search" made me think this season was going to be great from start-to-finish. What the show actually delivered were a bunch of standalones of mixed quality that had nothing to do with the compelling main story and at times contradicted it (like when the crew goes on a casual cruise into the Gamma Quadrant in "Meridian", despite the Dominion explicitly telling them not to).
Fri, Oct 16, 2020, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
This is my first time watching so I've now officially watched up to the end of season 3. It has been my favorite season so far especially compared to season 1. My only gripe is the Dominion honestly doesn't seem like that big of a threat period we started the season and even ended last season sounding like war was coming and that they would be flying through the wormhole at any moment. I was expecting the whole series to turn into more of a war drama, but the Dominion has barely made an appearance and really doesn't seem that threatening so I found that part pretty disappointing. There were times when I actually forgot all about them and would think oh yeah weren't they supposed to be some kind of big threat?
Fri, Oct 16, 2020, 7:51pm (UTC -5)
If you're expecting the Dominion to become more threatening in seasons 4, 5, 6 and 7, you're going to be disappointed. Mostly we get Sisko standing around in a room exchanging tedious words with various diplomatic representatives. DS9 was a dull show, especially compared with its contemporaries.
Wed, Oct 21, 2020, 9:34am (UTC -5)
I've been rewatching DS9. Using a 10 point scale, I'd give rate this season's episodes thusly:

The Search Part 1 -- 8.5/10
The Search Part 2 -- 8.5/10
House of Quark -- 8.5/10
Equilibrium -- 6/10
Second Skin -- 7/10
The Abandoned -- 7/10
Civil Defense -- 2/10
Meridian -- 2/10
Defiant -- 7/10
Fascination -- 2/10
Past Tense Part 1 -- 8/10
Past Tense Part 2 -- 7.5/10
Life Support -- 1/10
Heart of Stone -- 7/10
Destiny -- 8.5/10
Prophet Motive -- 7/10
Visionary -- 4/10
Distant Voices -- 2/10
Through the Looking Glass -- 6/10
Improbably Cause -- 8.9/10
The Die Is Cast -- 7.9/10
Explorers -- 6.9/10
Family Business -- 7.5/10
Shakaar -- 7/10
Facets -- 5/10
The Adversary -- 7.5/10

I would say everyone's reached a kind of consensus on this season. Everyone knows the good episodes, and the bad. For me personally, "House of Quark", "Search 2" and "Destiny" grew in stature over the years, whilst "The Die Is Cast", "Defiant", "Explorers" and "Past Tense" dipped slightly. I thought there were no great Dax, Miles or Bashir episodes in this season.
Paul M.
Thu, Jan 14, 2021, 10:55am (UTC -5)
My ratings of all Season 3 episodes on both 4-star and 10-point scales.

The Search, Part I: * * * (7.5)
The Search, Part II: * * (5.0)
The House of Quark: * * * (8.0)
Equilibrium: * *.5 (6.5)
Second Skin: * * *.5 (8.5)
The Abandoned: * * * (7.5)
Civil Defense: * *.5 (6.0)
Meridian: * (2.0)
Defiant: * * * (8.0)
Fascination: * * (5.0)
Past Tense, Part I: * * * (7.0)
Past Tense, Part II: * *.5 (6.0)
Life Support: * * (4.5)
Heart of Stone: * *.5 (6.0)
Destiny: * * *.5 (9.0)
Prophet Motive: * *.5 (5.5)
Visionary: * * * (8.0)
Distant Voices: * *.5 (5.5)
Through the Looking Glass: * * * (7.0)
Improbable Cause: * * * * (10)
The Die Is Cast: * * * * (10)
Explorers: * * *.5 (9.0)
Family Business: *.5 (3.5)
Shakaar: * *.5 (6.0)
Facets: * *.5 (5.5)
The Adversary: * * * (7.5)

Season 3 average: 2.73 stars (6.69 out of 10)

Best episodes: Improbable Cause / Die Is Cast two-parter, Explorers, Destiny

Worst Episodes: Meridian (utter trash), Family Business, Life Support
Paul M.
Thu, Jan 14, 2021, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
Season 3: The (Somewhat) Overrated One

In Trek fandom it is almost a truism that Deep Space Nine’s third season is „when stuff gets good“. It’s not that everybody shares that opinion, but coupled with the general Trekkian Third Season Rule, it’s widespread enough. And it’s easy to see why. This is the season the Dominion, which will henceforth play a central role in the story, got properly introduced, and is the focus of multiple well-regarded installments. Our crew got their hands on the Defiant which quickly became one of Trek’s most beloved ships, thanks in equal parts to its formidable firepower as well as its unusual and inspired design. The ship allowed the writers to get away from the station more in order to tell more varied stories. Indeed, the feel of the show really did change. It became less concerned with Bajoran politics (or the Maquis for that matter), and more adventurous and playful. There were multiple action-adventure episodes like the opening two-parter and „The Defiant“, comedies became a regular occurrence (some more successful than others), „Past Tense“ I and II were DS9’s first time travel story, and the season even had The Thing-inspired paranoia-driven thriller for the finale. I can’t be sure about this, but I think the show was also visually retooled a bit; it seems a bit brighter and more colorful. And last but not least, the Beard has arrived. (We are still waiting for Hair-B-Gone, though). The season felt livelier, no doubt about it.

However, when viewed and rated in isolation, there are a lot of average and/or mediocre episodes, and a couple of abysmal ones. I doubt there are many who want to see another „Meridian“ or „Family Business“ any time soon. Even perfectly competent episodes leave much to be desired or are too simplistic for their own good („The Search“, „Equilibrium“, „Civil Defense“, „Past Tense“, „Shakaar“, „Facets“...).While the „turn towards adventure“, whether originating inside the writers room or mandated from above, definitely had some good things going for it, I can’t help but feel it came at the expense of nuanced storytelling, at least in some episodes. My season averages (see post above this one) are therefore well below Season 2 and barely above my Season 1 ratings.

That said, Season 3 did an admirable job depicting the looming threat of the Dominion. Multiple episodes directly dealt with this issue in one form or another, ranging from the adventure-oriented opening two-parter („The Search“), character-driven look at the Jem’Hadar („The Abandoned“), masterful politically charged „Improbable Cause“ and „The Die Is Cast“ which remain among the all-time best Trek two-parters (and culminate with a space battle that puts to shame anything Discovery tried 25 years later), and closing with a solid and tensely paranoid final episode („The Adversary“) that serves as a good showcase of just how dangerous Founders can be if allowed to infiltrate the „solids“. Even episodes that ostensibly had nothing to do with the Dominion were used well either to foreshadow what was to come (Obsidian Order fleet buildup in „The Defiant“; Romulans trying to collapse the wormhole in deliciously high-concept „Visionary“) or to simply paint a picture of the new status quo (Quark noting that business is slow because everyone fears the Dominion in „The House of Quark“, incidentally the season’s, and the show’s up to this point, best comedy).

Cardassia was also surprisingly well-served this season. Building upon Season 2 material regarding the Obsidian Order and the dissident movement growing on the Cardassian homeworld, this season gave us quite a few very good-to-outstanding episodes that depict a world on the precipice of change, for better or worse.

The ensemble is as enjoyable as ever. In my humble view, this is the best Trek crew of them all, and this season served them just as well as the previous two have. I’d say Sisko is the most improved character, finally breaking through from a more background role of previous years and blazing his own trail to the pantheon of great Trek captains. He established a more commanding presence, his bond with Jake is as strong and believable as ever („Explorers“ being an absolute highlight), he meets captain Kasidy Yates for the first time, and gets promoted to boot. Thing are looking good!

Odo as a character is in a good spot as well. He began the season by finally meeting his people, only to realize they are the power behind the Dominion. The rest of the season he is shown to be gradually accepting his place among the solids and adopting their ways, be it slowly swaying with music in „Fascination“, admitting his love for Kira in „Heart of Stone“, or letting go of his inhibitions while joined with Curzon in „Facets“. All this came to a head in the „The Die Is Cast“ where under torture Odo admits he wants nothing more than to be able to return to his people. Looking through this lens, I find Odo’s journey this season quite remarkable.

As a huge O’Brien / Bashir fan, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that their famous bromance is finally in full swing this season. Be it racquetball, kayak, or darts, nothing can keep these two apart and I’m here for every second of it. Their drunken singing of Jerusalem in „Explorers“ is a highlight of the franchise, as far as I am concerned.

Although Andrew Robinson isn’t part of the main cast (for whatever reason), this is the season where Garak truly becomes an integral part of the DS9 character formula. His every appearance is a highlight thanks to Robinson’s brilliant portrayal, but what’s more he is integral to the plot of several essential episodes throughout the season in a way even some cast members aren’t.

Quark and Kira are probably somewhat underutilized, at least compared to previous years where both had some very strong and relevant material. Not to say they are in a bad spot, they’re simply not as focused on this year.

Dax, as always, is a weak link. I think that Farrell’s performance plays into and reinforces the writers’ inability or reluctance to give her good material as she probably doesn’t inspire them as many of the other actors and characters do. It’s telling that Dax-centric episodes routinely sideline Jadzia in favor of other cast members („Equilibrium“) or previous hosts („Facets“), which is something previous seasons were also guilty of („Dax“ is S1 or „Invasive Procedures“ in S2).

All in all... Season 3 is a tough one to parse. As noted above, individual episodes are often on the average side with some real stinkers and several masterpieces, which is reflected in my ratings. Then again, I also believe that the more serialized nature of the season featuring compelling intersecting Dominion and Cardassian storylines („The Search I“ – „Second Skin“ – „Defiant“ – „Visionary“ – „Improbable Cause“ – „The Die Is Cast“ – „The Adversary“), as well as certain playfulness that permeates much of season, bring the season’s overall quality to a level above what my ratings would indicate. Still probably not as good as Season 2, but I would definitely put it solidly above the first season, at least in terms of how much enjoyment I derived out of it.
Beard of Sisko
Sat, Mar 20, 2021, 5:24am (UTC -5)
The Search Part 1: 9/10
The Search Part 2: 7/10
The House of Quark: 8/10
Equilibrium: 7/10
Second Skin: 7/10
The Abandoned: 7/10
Civil Defense: 6/10
Meridian: 1/10
Defiant: 8/10
Fascination: 2/10
Past Tense Part 1: 8/10
Past Tense Part 2: 6/10
Life Support: 4/10
Heart of Stone: 6/10
Destiny: 7/10
Prophet Motive: 4/10
Visionary: 7/10
Distant Voices: 5/10
Improbable Cause: 9/10
The Die is Cast: 9/10
Through the Looking Glass: 5/10
Explorers: 7/10
Family Business: 5/10
Shakaar: 5/10
Facets: 5/10
The Adversary 7/10

Average final score: 6.2

An uneven third season compared to TNG's third, but not terrible overall

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