Well, sort of a rewatch/first watch, because I don’t really remember watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine beyond the first couple of seasons. I was barely twelve years old when it started airing and a dedicated Star Trek: The Next Generation fan, but for some reason DS9 just never grabbed me. Maybe it’s because they didn’t subject Jake Sisko to the same series of ugly sweaters that Wesley Crusher had to endure. Who knows.
But in honor of Aron Eisenberg’s passing (way too young), I want to give DS9 the chance it deserved… which I’m much better prepared to deliver as an adult than a kid, I daresay. I mean, adult me came to love Babylon 5 and that’s one hell of a slog through the first season.
Night one: The Emmissary part 1 and 2 and A Man Alone
I’ll note that A Man Alone was listed as episode 2 on Netflix, but Google claims it’s actually episode 3? Who knows. I think at this point, it also deeply does not matter, because I do recall the first couple of seasons being extremely episodic, shooting at the ST:TNG formula that was working so well at the time.
So. The Emmissary.
When I mentioned I’d be rewatching/watching the show on Twitter, I got a lot of cheerful warnings that the show really doesn’t get cooking until a couple of seasons in; be prepared to be as forgiving of DS9 as one has to be of the first couple mostly cringe-worthy seasons of ST:TNG. (And hoo boy, there is some cringe-y stuff in those seasons; I rewatched a bunch of ST:TNG while I was out of commission last year.)
But the thing is, I don’t think the warnings were really necessary. Particularly considering it’s a pilot, The Emmissaryis a solid two-ish hours of television. You get the dramatic start at Wolf 359 that sets up a lot about Commander Sisko’s issues, his traumas, his markedly strained relationship with Captain Picard. You get some good character moments with him interacting with Jake, and then he digs in with the rest of the main characters. Kira threatens to be a one-note aggressive lady-person with frizzy hair, but the pilot backs off that course just in time, letting her show her cunning and her absolute determination–and hinting at her deeply spiritual side. The central mysteries of the show get a good set up with the wormhole, and the entire concept of the show and its political tensions are broadcast from that. There’s a solid effort to indicate that the Ferengi are going to get to be more than their absolutely terrible origins as a gross stereotype. The only real weaknesses I’d accuse The Emmissary of having is that Julian Bashir is puppyish in a way that makes you feel like getting your Cruella DeVille on (if puppies were sex pests), and the bits with the aliens in the wormhole had me rolling my eyes at times.
Is it perfect? Wouldn’t say that. But when you compare it to other first episodes, like Encounter at Farpoint or Midnight on the Firing Line, it’s a damn strong first showing that I hope everyone involved was really proud of.
A Man Alone is equally solid as a second (or third, according to Google) episode. We get to learn a little bit more about Odo as a shapeshifter and the resident hardass security dude. We get to see a start of his really fascinating best frenemies relationship with Quark. We get to see the start of Jake and Nog’s enduring friendship (*raises a glass to Aron Eisenberg*). It’s a fun locked-room-mystery variant episode that only get a little silly in hindsight when it comes to wondering why the fuck they couldn’t figure out the whole clone thing without growing a whole new clone. (On the other hand, this gives us a window into clone ethics in the Star Trek universe and I definitely appreciated that!)
I also did find it kind of hilarious to see for the second time, Commander Sisko firing his phaser in the air like he’s an old west sherriff who thinks that’s the same as a gun. But anyway, the standout for me in this one was watching Keiko O’Brien get to upgrade her role from being a nice lamp on the chief’s desk–the scene where she convinces Rom to send Nog to her school did a lot of good work for her as a character and showed her being damn smart. (Which was necessary after her sort of airy handwaving about how she can totally put a curriculum together because she’s always wanted to be a teacher, I’m assuming written by someone who has literally never talked to a teacher in real life.)
Anyway, off to a really solid start. I’m looking forward to continuing my rewatch!
Heh, I wouldn’t have warned you about the first season if you’ve seen any other trek at all to compare it to. I will, however warn you about every. damn. single. Ferengi. episode. And the writers’ apparent opinion that misogyny is funny, so long as nothing nice happens to the misogynist.