It seems unbelievable to me that Deep Space Nine is now 22 years old. For no other reason than ‘just because’ I’m sharing some of the reasons why I still love this show immensely. These are not deeply thought out – they are delivered almost off the cuff to see what things spring to my mind.
I am mortified that Deep Space Nine may not get a Blu-ray release given the excellent remastering work on The Next Generation. I hope it gets its time to shine in HD.
- Changelings and Salome Jens. In early interviews Rene Auberjonois (Odo) thought that Odo wouldn’t meet his people. But he did, and boy were they trouble. The whole Changeling arc was just brilliant… from their painful background hunted by solids, to leaders of the Dominion. Dilemmas abound for Odo, and scene-stealing scenes from Salome Jens (the female Shapeshifter). Just thinking of her speech “They’re dead, you’re dead, Cardassia is dead. Your people were doomed from the moment they attacked us” sends shivers down the back of my neck as I write this paragraph.
- The battles. Okay, I enjoy the space battles, so sue me. But Deep Space Nine took us to levels we’d never seen in Star Trek before. Wolf 359 looks like a tea party with the Borg in comparison to the epic battles we got in Deep Space Nine. The Klingon attempt to take the station in “The Way of the Warrior”, the Cardassians taking the station in a “A Call to Arms”, retaking of Deep Space Nine in “A Call to Arms” and then the demise of the Defiant in “The Changing Face of Evil” all gave awesome moments. But it wasn’t just a jolly for me – it also conveyed the horrific damage done to the Alpha Quadrant resulting from the Dominion influence.
- “Whispers”. When I started with Deep Space Nine I didn’t really like it. I was (quite) young, an ardent TNG fan and I saw DS9 as an imposter. Which is ironic, as it turned out to be my favourite Trek. But “Whispers” was the episode that changed everything. Not a widely acclaimed DS9, but for me one of its finest hours. The genuine intrigue and sinister vibe that the episode portrays throughout, followed by its shocking ending that Chief O’Brien was an imposter just won me over. I started buying all the videos from that moment, and was a DS9 convert after this season two gem.
- “And now, the continuation”. At the time I found the simple novelty of a three parter in season two great. Even if it did feel like 2 or 3 different episodes forced together.
- “In the Pale Moonlight/His Way”. Arguably either of these episodes deserves its own entry – but for me the fact they were together in the episode order and on one VHS tape (ageing myself again) sums up DS9’s brilliance. Two episodes of such contrasting content and tone – one of political intrigue and ‘the road to hell’, and the other a love story set in a big band era – yet both are so brilliant, and there’s no feeling of collision between two very different stories. DS9’s confidence at this point was well deserved and shone brightly with these episodes.
- Vic Fontaine. Arguably just an extension of point five. But James Darren and the big band theme worked wonderfully with Deep Space Nine. I was listening to The Way You Look Tonight earlier today, I couldn’t help but grin at the line “and that smile that wrinkles your nose” and remembering Vic singing it to Kira. What show can have a moment resonate with such warmth 16 years later from a simple song?
- “Duet”. Star Trek has a knack for doing its best work in bottle shows. Look to TNG’s “A Measure of a Man” and “The Drumhead” and then there’s DS9’s “Duet”. Slipped in at the end of a shaky, formative season. A low budget affair. But a story that offers a masterclass in performance from Nana Visitor and Harris Yulin. The end is annoyingly simplistic yet is absolutely heart breaking and is still one of Star Trek’s finest hours.
- Characters changed. I love TNG and I don’t want this article to indicate otherwise. But did the characters really change? Picard remains Picard. But in Deep Space Nine, I can see the journey. Sisko, from bitter reluctant Emissary to the character we saw at the end. Kira, from terrorist fighter to running Deep Space Nine. Almost every character clearly changes from the first episode to the last and I love it.
- No Borg. I still admire the show’s stance in not resorting to the Borg. They tried Q and it failed quite badly. The Klingon war story and introduction of Worf was, let’s be honest, not from a position of confidence but of defence. But through all this they never got tempted to play with the Borg, and I admire Deep Space Nine for trying not to jump on the Borg bandwagon. Something that Voyager and even Enterprise cannot say.
- Louise Fletcher. Enough said.
What are your favourite moments? Sound off below.