Synopsis: Deep Space Nine is a former cardassian space station orbiting the formerly occupied planet Bajor. The Bajorans have lived for 60 years under cardassian rule but now they are free. The provisional government has asked the Federation for support and Starfleet takes over the management of DS9. It’s commander is Benjamin Sisko, who has lost his wife three years ago in the battle against the Borg and now he must raise his son alone in the middle of nowhere. His second in command is Major Kira, a former bajoran resistance fighter. The rest of the crew are both Starfleet officers of all kind of races and Bajorans. Chief of security is Odo, a shape-shifter with unknown origins.
The spiritual leader of the Bajorans asks Cmdr. Sisko to study the “Tears of the Prophets”, mythical orbs that have come to Bajor of the last ten thousand years. With their help Cmdr. Sisko discovers the only known stable wormhole in our galaxy and it leads to the Gamma Quadrant, to a point 70,000 light years away from DS9, on the other side of the galaxy. And suddenly the bajoran system has been put onto the map and the Cardassians will accept any excuse to re-take it.
My Opinion: It’s very clear from the beginning that DS9 will be different than its predecessor Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). TNG played on a all-Federation-personnel Starfleet spaceship, while on DS9 uncounted cultures clash: Starfleet personnel, Bajorans and the civilians aboard the station – for example Quark, the Ferengi bar owner. And most of the characters have a background story and their lives haven’t been straight-forward. I really like that. Unfortunately I can’t really remember what I thought about them, when I saw them for the first time back in the mid-90s, but DS9 is now my favourite Star Trek show and one of my favourite Sci-Fi shows.
I also liked the idea of the “handshake” when the Enterprise made an appearance in the pilot episode, something they will do again when the Voyager departs from DS9 in their pilot episode. But the meeting between Captain Picard and Cmdr. Sisko also showed that these shows will be different.
Synopsis: A bajoran scout ship is being attacked by a cardassian warship but the pilot can be beamed out shortly before his ship is destroyed. He seeks asylum aboard DS9 because he was a member of the Khon-Ma, a “terrorist cell” during the occupation. Kira knows him from these days and she pleads to Sisko to grant asylum. But not all Cardassians have left the station. The local tailor Garak – who is suspected to be a spy – contacts Dr. Bashir in a rather unorthodox way and informs him about a meeting between two klingon renegades and the former terrorist.
My Opinion: The first episodes of the season will be used to introduce the viewers to the characters. While the pilot was mostly about Sisko and the loss of his wife at Wolf 359, this episode is about Kira and her past in the resistance. It was an OK episode, but I really liked the introduction of Garak, who will become an interesting guest character over the years.
A Man Alone
Synopsis: Odo tries to throw a Bajoran out of Quark’s casino/bar and wants him off the station. A few hours later that man is dead and there are no traces that could explain how the murder had left the crime scene. As chief of security Odo investigates but soon becomes a prime suspects and thus having a conflict of interest. Meanwhile Chief O’Brien’s wife Keiko – who was a botanist aboard the Enterprise – has nothing to do on DS9 and becomes frustrated. When Sisko’s son Jake befriends Quark’s nephew Nog and subsequently gets into trouble, she decides that the station needs a school.
My Opinion: This episode introduces Odo who has also been security chief during the last years of the occupation. I really like that he’s a man of principles who has his own codex and who values justice above all else. It was only consequent that it was he who pointed out that only a shape-shifter could have left the crime scene without leaving a trace. The story’s hole was that the doctor couldn’t figure out what these DNA particles were until it grown into a whole body. After all he was second-best in his year at medical school…
Synopsis: During the repair of a food replicator, Chief O’Brien accidentally activates a hidden device that was planted there during the construction of the station 18 years ago. This device injects a virus into each replicated food. After the incubation time people start to babble incoherently, then they get fever and die. Even worse: At some point the virus has mutated and has become airborne. Now the entire station is in danger.
My Opinion: It was an average episode, but we’ve seen Odo and Quark working together for the first time and that was fun.
Synopsis: The first visitor from the Gamma Quadrant comes through the wormhole but he is not on a diplomatic mission. He is the prey in a hunt and the hunters are closing in. But he is no criminal nor did he do anything wrong – not even by the standards of his home world. He was bred to be the prey. The longer he stays alive and eludes his captors the more honour he brings to himself and to the hunter that kills him at last.
My Opinion: Genetically implemented “To the death!” mentality will become a common theme in DS9 and I think the characters handled this situation very well. They’ve bend the Prime Directive (“no interference in the business of other cultures unless asked to”) without breaking it. I don’t think Picard could have handled it better.
Synopsis: When the Runabout-class shuttle Ganges returns from the Gamma Quadrant they bring someone with them: Vash. Vash is a archaeologist who is more in the game for the money than the science. A few years back she accepted an offer by the godlike being Q to show her all the interesting places in the universe. Now she’s back and Q with her. And Q always equals trouble.
My Opinion: Unfortunately this was the only appearance of John de Lancie in his role as Q on DS9. Stories with Q have mostly been interesting and this was one of them, especially (again) to point out the differences between Picard and Sisko. I really liked it when Sisko punched Q square in the face and he wasn’t expecting that.
Synopsis: Three men try to kidnap Jadzia Dax from the station and bring her to a court. Jadzia Dax is a Trill, a symbiotic joined species with a humanoid host and a slug-like symbiont. When the host dies the symbiont will be transplanted into a new one. The former being – and mentor of Cmdr. Sisko – Curzon Dax has died a few years ago but now Jadzia is charged for a murder where Curzon is the prime suspect. But can Jadzia Dax being held responsible for something Curzon Dax supposedly did?
My Opinion: I liked that episode. It reminded me of the TNG episode where it was discussed whether or not Data – as an artificial life-form – has the right to make his own decisions. They had some compelling arguments for both sides and since the minds of host and symbiont have been truly merged it isn’t as easy as it would be with Stargate SG-1‘s Goa’uld/Tok’ra. I also find it fascinating what we will learn about Curzon throughout the show without ever meeting him (except for that short flashback in the pilot).
Synopsis: Kira and Bashir find a ship where a fire has broken out. Aboard this ship are a dying prisoner, a dead and a living guard. The prisoner dies, too and Dr. Bashir can do nothing about it. But the guard isn’t convinced that this prisoner is really dead. After their return to DS9 it is seems that she has been right and now a dangerous man is loose on the station.
My Opinion: Sometimes they overdo it with technology. We’ve seen mind transfers more than once in Star Trek and you often need to do a “leap of faith”. Often they need – even in Star Trek dimensions – huge computer banks to store a mind or it is an ability a species has. But this time the device being used to store a mind was smaller than a fingernail and that makes it unbelievable.
Even apart from that the story wasn’t that interesting.
Move Along Home
Synopsis: A new species from the Gamma Quadrant arrives on DS9, but they aren’t interested in establishing any diplomatic contacts. They just want to play and what better place than the “Quark’s”? But when Quark cheats them they force him to play one of their games and the game counters are very, very real.
My Opinion: I always liked that episode; to see the two planes: Quark, Odo and the Wadi looking at the abstract game board and Sisko, Dax, Bashir and Kira as the pawns who try to find their way out of the mace. But I have to admit that it was not logical that Odo didn’t force the Wadi to release the officers. Many people didn’t like this episode but I thought it had a nice surrealistic touch.
Synopsis: The Grand Nagus – leader of the Ferengi Alliance – Zek comes to the station to discuss with his fellow “entrepreneurs” the new business opportunities that have opened with the wormhole. But then Zek announces his retirement and names Quark to be his successor because he had the “ears” to open a bar directly at the gateway to the Gamma Quadrant. But soon Quark realizes that being the Grand Nagus is a very dangerous position to be in.
My Opinion: When shown in groups the Ferengi are still being portrayed in a very clichéd way but at least they aren’t being as barbaric as they were in the beginning of TNG. This was also the first time that the “Rules of Acquisition” have been mentioned, which can be acquired here – every Ferengi must have at least one copy!
This episode was OK, but I like later Ferengi episodes better. That’s one thing I also like about the DS9, many species get a much more deeper profile than TNG has given them. If TNG was about discovering new planets then DS9 was about unfolding the characteristics of the species of these planets.
Synopsis: Quark is doing illegal businesses again but this time someone gets killed and the murderer is a newcomer from the Gamma Quadrant. The planet he comes from wants him back to punish him for crimes he’s done there, the brother of the murdered wants to see him dead, too and Odo wants to find out if he really knows something about “changelings” as he claims to do.
My Opinion: We’ve known since the pilot that Odo doesn’t know where he’s from and that he’s trying to find out. I’ve never noticed before that the story the prisoner told actually sounds similar to that Odo’s folk will tell later. But I doubt that it was consciously “planted” here to be used later. Star Trek is – after all – neither Babylon 5 nor Buffy, they just make it up as they go along.
Synopsis: The bajoran spiritual leader – Kai Opaka – visits DS9 for the first time and Sisko grants her her wish and takes her through the wormhole. On the other side they pick up a signal but when they reach the point of origin the runabout Yangtzee Kiang is attacked and crash-lands on a moon. Kai Opaka dies during the crash but miraculously revives. But they aren’t alone on the moon. There are two waring factions and Sisko and the others get caught in the middle.
My Opinion: Although it was only the second appearance of Kai Opaka I hated to see her leave the show because I know who will succeed her. Apart from that the story wasn’t very good. First of all the premise was wrong: So they can’t die because they get resurrected – but what about beheading? That’s pretty final, isn’t it? And if they’ve really fought for countless years without getting anything out of it, at some point they simply have to get tired of it.
Synopsis: Dr. Bashir is being called to a bajoran village where the population fears to be dead soon. O’Brien is ordered to accompany him. But when they arrive they find only a dying old man and the rest of the village seems to be fine. But that old man is the only person who can fight back the Dal’Rok and he appoints O’Brien as his successor.
My Opinion: The begin of a beautiful friendship (even though they don’t know it yet). Still a rather uninteresting episode.
Synopsis: A moon in the bajoran system has to be evacuated due to core drillings but one farmer is unwilling to leave his house. Major Kira Nerys tries to convince him to leave before he will be forcefully removed. Meanwhile Jake and Nog found the “Noh-Jay Consortium” and try to sell 5000 packs of mistakenly ordered cardassian Yamok sauce.
My Opinion: This was a great episode on both story lines. Brian Keith played a great Mullibok and the scenes with him and Kira were really good. I believe this was the first time that we learn that “Nerys” is actually Kira’s given name. Although her full name was known and she is addressed as “Major Kira” even former resistance companions called her “Kira”, not “Nerys”. It was also funny to see Nog and Jake trying to make money out of the sauce and the stuff they’ve exchanged it for.
If Wishes Were Horses
Synopsis: Dax discovers that something strange is going on in the Denorios belt (where the wormhole is located). And suddenly fantasies become reality and manifest themselves. Sisko’s visited by a famous baseball player, Rumpelstiltskin appears in the bedroom of Chief O’Brien’s daughter and a very submissive Jadzia hits on Dr. Bashir. But that’s not the worst. And there’s a sub-spatial rift in the belt and it’s widening and threatens to destroy the station.
My Opinion: Another average episode. The second Dax was funny but overall it was nothing special.
Synopsis: Four Federation ambassadors come to the station, amongst them Lwaxana Troi, mother of the Enterprise’s ship counsellor Deanna Troi. But there’s another guest and it came through the wormhole – only at first no one knows it’s there, until the station’s systems are starting to act weird.
My Opinion: I really liked this episode. It was fun to see Bashir handle the three totally different ambassadors and Odo trying to get away from Lwaxana. And I also liked the conversation between Odo and Lwaxana in the turbo lift. It felt totally right, like something Lwaxana would do and that was great.
Synopsis: A klingon ship comes back from the Gamma Quadrant but explodes after leaving the wormhole. Only the first officer had managed to beam out but he also dies in the Ops (Operation Center). Soon after Odo registers that the command personnel seems to behave differently. Two factions are emerging, basically on the line between Federation and bajoran officers. The rescued “black box” from the klingon ship seems to indicate that something similar happened there.
My Opinion: Another good episode. I liked to see how the different people were getting more and more paranoid and how they (not) handled it. I also liked how Odo managed to play “double agent” and how he played them all.
Synopsis: A cardassian comes to the station who has a rare disease and that means he was stationed at a certain labour camp during the occupation. At first he claims to have been only a file clerk, but then evidence points to the fact that he was actually the commanding Gul of that camp. Kira and the Bajorans want to charge him with having committed war crimes.
My Opinion: One of the best if not the best episode of the first season. Nana Visitor (Kira) and Harris Yulin (Marritza; Quentin Travers [Watcher’s Council] in Buffy) played perfectly. If you ever get the chance to watch that episode, do so. It’s not necessary to know the surrounding Star Trek settings to understand (“enjoy” would be an ill chosen word here) it.
In the Hands of the Prophets
Synopsis: Vedek Winn visits the station and she disagrees with Keiko O’Brien’s teachings about the wormhole, since it is a religious symbol to the Bajorans – the celestial temple – and not just a scientific phenomena. Sisko seeks the help of Vedek Bareil who is likely to become the next Kai and far less conservative than Vedek Winn. But then someone blows the school up.
My Opinion: It’s scary how similar the main terrorist acted to nowadays’s real-world terrorist. On the surface blended into Federation (i.e. western) society, friends with the Chief but under the surface deeply religious and willing to do anything to fight “enemies” of her religion. And of course, it’s not only religion but politics as well.
The Season – My Opinion: A slow start to a great series. What was really noticeable in comparison to current shows was the static, stage-like direction. For example in the episode Dax, where Dax was about to be kidnapped we see Dr. Bashir come around the corner and then he stops dead. Cut. We see Jadzia struggle with her captors. Cut. Julian has understood what is happening and now he begins to run towards her. But it wasn’t fluent. One has the feeling he heard an inaudible starting shot and then starts to run.
But in general I liked the setting in general and how they had an eye for details. For example: Chief O’Brien meets his wife on the promenade and he’s just coming from work. He has some lubricant on his uniform as if he was crawling through a tube. On TNG I can’t remember if the uniforms were ever dirty unless it had a purpose for them to be unclean.