Our top 10 this week deals with my favorite of all the Star Trek shows: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The only one of the franchise to take place in a station (the show also premiered about the same time as Babylon 5), DS9 dealt with the same Star Trek universe, but from a different perspective. Yes there was exploration, but as much of it was internal as trips through space. Although the show gets too war-centric towards the end it’s got characters, personalities, and general conflicts which make it worth sticking out for the long haul. It was hard to whittle my list down to ten, and I had to do a small bit of cheating to accomplish it, but here, in my opinion, is the best of DS9…
10. Equilibrium & Facets – It’s in this pair of episodes that Dax’s past, and the nature of what it means to be a Trill, are discussed and delved into. In “Equilibrium” Jadzia begins to remember hidden memories of a former host, and in “Facets” all of her former hosts temporarily take possession of one of the DS9 crew (including a disturbing scene with Quark, and some memorable moments with Odo). Here we’re given brief moments to look into the past of this character we see only as Jadzia (well, at least until Ezri shows up in Season 7).
Bashir: “Nobody said life is fair.”
Jadzia: “Even if you had seven of them.”
9. Blood Oath – More than STNG or any of the series that followed, DS9 had a love for the original Star Trek. This episode from Season 2 returns three of Kirk’s Klingon adversaries (Kor, Kang, and Koloth) as old friends of Curzon Dax who have reunited to fulfill a blood oath and hunt down the man responsible for the death of Kang’s son. Seriously, what more could you want? The episode also take the time for Dax to come to terms with what it means to fulfill her oath, including a pair of nice scenes with Kira and Sisko. Although the final battle is a bit anti-climactic, it’s the journey into Dax’s past, plus the return of these classic characters that make it stand-out.
Odo: “How did you get in here?”
Koloth: “I am Koloth.”
Odo: “That doesn’t answer my question.”
Koloth: “Yes, it does.”
8. The Visitor – I’ll admit I wasn’t a big fan of Jake Sisko in the beginning, and storylines which centered around his character always seemed a little too cute. This fourth season episode centers entirely around Jake and a possible future after losing his father who becomes dematerialized and trapped in time, and yet it’s one of the best of the series. Aside from the grieving of the station, the moments which stand out are older Jake simply telling the tale to a young girl who wants nothing more than to follow in his footsteps as a writer, and to whom he tells his tale. The conclusion is quite touching as Jake sacrifices himself to free his father, who seems to remember, at least emotionally, the sacrifice his future son made.
Jake: “It was me. It was me all along. I’ve been dragging you through time like an anchor… and now it’s time to cut you loose.”
7. Destiny / Accession / Rapture – Okay, I’m cheating a little here but these three episodes belong together as they showcase the evolution of Sisko’s role as the Emissary to the Bajoran people. In Season 3’s “Destiny” he is still uncomfortable with the role, but by the end of the episode, even with his skepticism after the prophecy has come true, he is open to at least listening to further prophecies. Season 4’s “Accession” finds Sisko eagerly giving up the title to a Bajoran who returns from the wormhole only to come to terms with what that means. Here his attitude to the role changes again as he decides to fight for the role he once scorned. And, finally, in Season 5’s “Rapture” he truly accepts the role, willing to go so far as to abandon his own beliefs and risk his life to follow the visions that he receives.
Sisko: “Do you really think that I am the Emissary?”
Kira: “I guess I always have, I… never wanted to admit it to myself. It’s hard to work for a religious icon.”
6. The Wire – One of my favorite recurring characters from the show was Garak, the exiled spy turned tailor. It’s in this episode from Season 2 where we first get a glimpse at the character’s past, his incredible ability to spin lies, and the pain he feels (both from the malfunctioning implant and from the from being exiled to the Bajoran space station). The show also goes a long way to cement the Bashir/Garak relationship which gives several great moments over the course of the series (one of which you’ll find higher up on this list).
Bashir: “Of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren’t?”
Garak: “My dear Doctor, they’re all true…”
Bashir: “Even the lies?”
Garak: “Especially the lies.”
5. Little Green Men – You can’t have a DS9 list without at least one Quark episode. I was tempted to use “House of Quark” but instead I chose this episode from Season 4 which reveals Quark, Rom, and Nog are the Area-51 aliens. The time travel episode creates the look of the old 50’s B-movies, complete with a cast fitting the genre (and includes Nowhere Man‘s Megan Gallagher). Great fun!
Quark: “What’s that disgusting smell?”
Nog: “I think it’s called ‘tobacco’. It’s a deadly drug. When used frequently, it destroys the internal organs.”
Quark: “If it’s so deadly, then why do they use it?”
Nog: “It’s also highly addictive.”
Rom: “How do they get their hands on it?”
Nog: “They buy it in stores.”
Quark: “They buy it? If they’ll buy poison, they’ll buy anything. I think I’m going to like it here.”
4. Duet – One of the best episodes of DS9 came at the end of the first season features a battle between Major Kira and a Cardassian who may, or may not, have been the head of the bloodiest concentration camp during the war. It’s a great two-person piece, and although it’s one of the few DS9’s to allow a twist to take some of the bite out of an episode (something STNG was prone to do at times), the final scene makes sure to drive the knife in for Kira, and the audience.
Marritza: “War crimes? How could there be war crimes, when there hasn’t been a war? Of course, I can understand how you might wish there had been a war… Your need to indulge some pathetic fantasy of brave Bajoran soldiers marching to an honorable defeat. But in fact, Major, you and I both know there was no war; no glory; Bajor didn’t resist. It just surrendered.”
3. Trials and Tribble-ations – To commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the original series during DS9‘s fifth season the show decided to a time travel episode which would be inter-cut with one of the show’s most memorable episodes, “The Trouble with Tribbles.” The new scenes are blended perfectly with the old, and there are some truly funny moments such as Worf’s explanation for the change in Klingon physique and Dax going all ga-ga for Spock. Even if DS9 isn’t your cup of tea (what’s wrong with you!) this is still an episode all Trekkies should enjoy.
Worf: “They were once considered mortal enemies of the Klingon Empire.”
Odo: (holds up tribble) “This, a mortal enemy of the Empire?”
Worf: “They were an ecological menace! A plague that had to be wiped out!”
Odo: “Wiped out? What’re you saying?”
Worf: “Hundreds of warriors were sent to track them down throughout the galaxy. An armada obliterated the Tribbles’ home world. By the end of the twenty-third century, they were eradicated.”
Odo: “Another glorious chapter in Klingon history. Tell me, do they still sing songs about the great tribble hunt?”
2. Our Man Bashir – Bashir, Julian Bashir. From Season 4 comes my favorite holodeck episode from any Trek series. Garak joins Bashir for his Bond-style spy program only to have something go wrong (well, it is a holodeck episode) as the Away Team’s physical forms become incorporated into the program. Dax becomes Dr. Honey Bare, Kira becomes Colonel Anastasia Komananov, O’Brien and Worf are cast as henchmen, and Sisko becomes the demented evil genius Dr. Noah (who, according to his name, has plans to flood the planet). Great fun all the way through, with something of a twist ending for a Bond-type hero to employ.
Garak: “Kiss the girl, get the key. They never taught me that in the Obsidian Order.”
1. Far Beyond the Stars – From Season 6 comes this terrific standalone episode featureing Sisko lost in one of his visions in the 1950’s as sci-fi pulp magazine writer Benny Russell. The episode centers around Russell’s idea for a new story which includes a black captain in charge of a space station, which leads to controversy inside the office as well as one ticked off publisher. Aside from a great message the episode is filled with near perfect touches along with the fun of seeing the regular cast out of uniform and dressed 50’s style (and allowed real-life married couple Siddig and Vistor to play one on screen). A definite must-see!
Sisko: “Maybe, just maybe, Benny isn’t the dream: we are. Maybe we’re nothing more than figments of his imagination. For all we know, at this very moment, somewhere out there, far beyond all those distant stars… Benny Russell is dreaming about us.”