Man back in 1993-1998, I was just a wee little thing, spanning the ages of 4-9. I was introduced early to the two SciFi adventures, Star Wars and Star Trek. More Star Wars than Star Trek due to the fact that it is one of my Mom’s favorite movie franchises and thought it would be a lot of fun for a youngster such as myself. But I was also introduced to Star Trek: Wrath of Kahn at a young age as well and was familiar with the fact that Star Trek was still running strong in the 90’s with its various television shows. While The Next Generation did hold my interest in a few episodes (I wasn’t an avid viewer), but Voyager and today’s topic Deep Space Nine I wanted absolutely nothing to do with. In my developing mind I said ‘I know what I want from Star Trek, I want adventure and traveling through the stars! I don’t want to spend the whole time in a lousy space station! Instant hate!’… Voyager I never cared for and still don’t care for… But Deep Space Nine on the other hand… Oh man, I am so glad that I waited tell I was older so that I could truly appreciate this series for the genius that it was.
I decided to give the show a look at after my friend Matt told me a sweeping synopsis and when I heard it was more about the diplomatic relations of the Federation and with my degree is in International Politics this perked my ears up. So I watched it and after seeing it I will go as far to say that out of all the different Star Trek television shows, that Deep Space Nine is now my favorite over all others, including the original.
The synopsis of the show is that the Federation has occupied a former Cardassian space station, now dubbed ‘Deep Space Nine’ after it assisted the people of Bajor gain their independence from the Cardassian who occupied their home planet. In the early days of the Federation running the space station, the crew led by Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) discover a self-sustaining Worm Hole that leads to a whole other quadrant of the Universe. The series follows the crew of Deep Space Nine as they assist Bajor’s transition into a self sustaining government, dealing with Cardassian interest in Bajor, fighting a Federation separatist movement known as the Maquis, and finally battling the nefarious union known as the Dominion that controls the Gamma Quadrant with an iron fist. Needless to say this is a sweeping overview of a series that ran for five years and if I tried to explain the whole inter workings of the television show then this review would be the length of a small novel.
The Show Sets Itself Apart from the Others By Being About a Stationary Location Instead of Intrepid Adventurers, Giving It It’s Own Identity
I have to admit in retrospect of the entire series, Deep Space Nine I have to say probably has the biggest set of balls on it than the other series that followed the original. In regards to the fact that The Next Generation was basically a recreation of the original show with a new cast of characters and a more polished setting seeing as how they had a bigger budget to work with. Voyager had a similar plot to it of space exploration, the only difference is they were lost in space and trying to find their way home. Deep Space Nine on the other hand really went for a stretch all things considered by having the setting be a stationary location. Now granted there is a lot of exploration, especially with the Gamma Quadrant but really the show does focus on the setting of DS9, the relationship between the Bajorans and the Cardassians, and the Federation’s relationship with the Dominion. This is the one Star Trek series that says, our job is not to boldly go where no man has gone before our job is to stay where man has gone before, and work with preexisting governments of aliens.
Even though I am not a fan of the Dominion (we will get to that later) the show does give you the chance to really explore who the Dominion are as well as get a feel for how the Federation handles diplomatic situations such as the Cardassian/Bajoran conflict.
The Show Does a Fantastic Job on Revealing the Diplomatic and Political Actions of The Federation
I do love understanding the intricate workings of the Federation and how they deal with diplomatic situations, such as helping a planet like Bajor get back on its feet after the lengthy occupation of Cardassia. Not to mention their relationship with the Dominion and how they handle different situations. The show I feel, is much more cerebral and feels a lot more like a massive game of chess with the entire universe as pieces to be played on the board. How these different factions like the Federation, Romulans, the Klingon Kingdom, and the Dominion are fascinating to behold.
I still am not the biggest fan of the moments where people like Sisko directly disobey orders and by doing so it seems that they get promoted for it. This also seems to be a Star Trek schtick but I feel like if the quickest way to be promoted and gain respect in the Federation is to disobey as many orders as possible and constantly put your crew in harm’s way. I’m sure that different circumstances mean different things, but I do find this to be very distracting.
The Dominion is Not a Good Villain
This may just be me, but I never liked the Dominion. Now granted there were other villains throughout the story, but really you could say that the Dominion was the primary antagonist throughout the show. For those uninitiated, the Dominion is an organization that pretty much runs the entire Gamma Quadrant with an iron fist. They are composed of three races. The leaders of the Dominion, otherwise known as the Founders is a race of Shapeshifters or Changelings, the same as the constable on Deep Space Nine Odo (Rene Auberjonois). Working underneath them as their type of ‘minions’ are two races of beings that the founders genetically created. The first is the Jem’Hadar, a race of ‘lizard men’ who are created solely for the purpose of battle. There whole existence is to fight for the Founders who they view as Gods and are controlled by a formula called Ketracel White, a substance that the Founders produce that if the Jem’Hadar are not supplied with, they die. The second race of creatures are called the Vorta. The Vorta act as the emissaries for the Founders. They control the Jem’Hadar and act as ‘diplomats’ to other races. They have more free will then the Jem’Hadar and are a lot more deceptive, though they too see the Founders as Gods and remain devoted to them. Later in the series, the Dominion also recruits the races of the Cardassians and the Breen.
I understand that the Dominion is supposed to be portrayed as this race of super creatures who were created by these Shapeshifters and are genetically programmed to be the best at what they do. But in a way they just feel like your regular bad guy villains. While the Federation does have a bit of trouble with them at first, as the series progresses it shows that they do learn to adapt to the Dominion’s tactics and from what I could gather, the only reason the Dominion was not stomped out early on in the war was because A) The Cardassians and the Breen joined them and B) and more importantly, the Jem’Hadar and Vorta could be cloned in bulk.
It might not help that when I first heard about the Dominion’s existence I originally pictured this BIG grandiose alliance of different species that ruled over the Gamma Quadrant. I thought it would be the Gamma Quadrant equivalent to the Federation. A massive union of different species that work together in a cohesive fashion. The only problem is that the Federation and the Dominion have different goals. But no, it turns out the Dominion is nothing more than a huge group of Shapeshifters and their brigade of cloned mascots.
I Do Get Tired of The Trek Formula That if You are Not a Main Characters, You Die
This is more of a nitpick on the whole series and not just Deep Space Nine, but anytime there is an episode where a group of DS9 officers are in a life or death situation, you know damn well who all is going to die. It is the tertiary characters, every single time.
The show brings in a slew of characters for several different instances and they try (sometimes) to build character development before they are killed off, but really you know damn well they aren’t going to make it. The survivors are the main cast members… Or at least the cast members that you have seen in different episodes. Everyone else you might as well start writing the obituaries because they are not coming home.
It Ran Out of Ideas Near the End
This happens to most shows, but it is sad to watch a show in retrospective and slowly watch as the creative ideas begin to slowly drift away and they just begin to insert poor plot threads in the hopes of keeping people watching. While I do like Worf (Michael Dorn) as a character, I could tell the only reason he was added to the show was to attempt to increase ratings and you can also chalk up the whole relationship between him and Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) to that as well. The Dominion Wars and the addition to the Defiant while cool to watch just feel like an attempt to bring in viewers that the show was slowly losing towards the end.
I love this show. I loved watching it, I loved getting involved with the characters, growing in the mythos, and just watching day-to-day life on DS9. Sure the show has a few hiccups, but really any long running television show is going to have a few flaws in it. The fact is that it tells a good and solid story with a fantastic cast of relatable and enjoyable characters. The enemy may be a little weak but overall the show will stand a testament of time as one of the gems of the Star Trek Franchise.
Final Score 4/5
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